LAS VEGAS – Almost half a decade ago, Mecca was still largely off-limits to the NFL
In 2015, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo called the league greedy and jealous at it Banned from attending a fantasy football event Here because it was held in a convention center attached to a casino. The league did not allow the city’s tourism office to do so until 2020 Take out an ad during the Super Bowl. To this day, league employees may not gamble during business trips.
But within a few years, the NFL’s longstanding resistance to doing business in and with Las Vegas had collapsed. Team owners have been persuaded that many of the city’s casinos do not pose a threat to the safety of professional football. They also took over generous public subsidies that helped pay for the new Raiders Stadium when The league agreed to move the team here in 2017.
The new attitude toward Sin City will be highlighted on Thursday when Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Jacksonville Jaguars around the clock, kicking off the festival. the draftThe real rookie party of the league in Las Vegas. In quick succession, the city acquired the football franchise, was placed in this year’s Pro Bowl, and in February 2024, You will be hosting the Super Bowl.
“Those of us who are older chuckle at NFL memories and don’t even let Las Vegas advertise during the Super Bowl,” said Michael Green, a professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The arrival of the conscription “most often reflects that the state has moved past the idea that gambling is the ultimate vice and that everyone here is called Three-Fingered Lenny and Ignats the Ice Pick.”
The city’s league resistance cracked in late 2014, around the time the Raiders talks with officials in Oakland, California, about a new stadium. Mark Davis, the team’s owner, enjoyed a pitch given by Napoleon McCallum, a runaway former Raiders who at the time worked for Las Vegas Sands, which owns hotels, casinos, and venues. He urged Davis to consider Las Vegas.
Davis was no stranger to the city. His father, Al, visited him frequently when he owned the team, and the younger Davis bought the domain name LasVegasRaiders.com in the late 1990s. But Mark Davis knew he would need more to sway the other team owners to get around moving there. So in February 2015, McCallum arranged for Davis to meet with Bo Bernard, executive director of the International Games Institute at UNLV, and several other executives.
At the meeting, which took place on the UNLV campus, Bernard made it clear to Davies that the league had nothing to fear in Las Vegas because gambling was heavily regulated. Davis asked him to write a report that would help him bring this issue to his NFL teammates. Several months later, Bernard and other experts produced 112-page report Which addressed what they thought were the league’s biggest concerns, from the potential risks of gambling to whether the city was big enough to support the team.
said Mark Liparelli, the former president of the Nevada Game Oversight Board who worked with Bernard on the report. “Our attitude was, you shouldn’t be afraid of us, you should be afraid of other players,” he said, referring to unregulated gambling operations.
Bernhard said he didn’t know how many owners were affected by the report, but it “was a moment to start a conversation with a deep and enduring sincerity that didn’t happen at the time.”
By then, Davis was in talks with Sheldon Adelson, founder of the Las Vegas Sands, about building a new stadium. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval was also looking for a way to help the Raiders build a stadium if they moved to Las Vegas. Steve Hill, who led the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Commission, was asked to find a way to use the proposed increase in the hotel bed tax to pay for the expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center as well as a $750 million subsidy to help build an NFL stadium.
Davis’s conversations with Adelson were resolved, but after numerous hearings and criticism about the possibility of using a bed tax to pay for more pressing needs, The state legislature in November 2016 approved the bed tax and finance the convention center and stadium.
Davis was working it all out in Las Vegas at that point, convinced to cover much of the stadium’s construction costs and other team owners’ concerns about thaw out gambling.
Earlier that year, league owners voted to allow E. Stanley Kroenke to move the Rams out of St. Chargers. As a consolation, Spanos was given the option to join Kroenke, which he exercised.
This left Davis with two main options: continue the fight with the city of Oakland, which did not want to pay for the construction of a new stadium, or embrace Las Vegas, where he was offered a massive subsidy. He chose the latter, and the owners were on his mind.
In late 2016, Goodell and several high-profile owners, including Jerry Jones of the Cowboys and Robert K.Kraft of the New England Patriots, traveled to Las Vegas to meet with local officials over lunch at Wynn. Steve Sisolak, who was the chief Clark County Commissioner who advocated efforts to lure the raiders, noted that day that owners were more concerned about the area’s ability to host a team than they were about gambling.
“I don’t think we should have sold it” in Las Vegas, Sisolak, who is now the governor of Nevada, said. “They were so excited to be moving here.”
The March 2017 vote to allow the Raiders to move to Las Vegas was anti-climate: Only one owner—Stephen M. Ross of the Miami Dolphins—voted against the proposal.
The Raiders and Las Vegas soon got to work looking for ways to maximize their new stadium. Hill asked the largest resorts for ideas on how to host a draft. In April 2018, Hill also went with Mark Baden, then-president of the Raiders, to Arlington, Texas, to see how the draft was produced that year at AT&T Stadium.
The 2020 draft was awarded to Las Vegas, but the pandemic has forced the league to delay it by two years. In the end, officials settled on making the most of the strip, with a red carpet event in front of Bellagio and the main event at the Caesars Forum, a convention center next to the High Roller, a massive Ferris wheel.
Despite a recent series of NFL players’ disagreements with the law in Las Vegas, the league said it had no reason to consider the city particularly troublesome to its athletes. Saints running back Alvin Camara and Chris Lamons of Kansas City and two other men face criminal charges stemming from a nightclub altercation the night before the Pro Bowl.
Raiders in November 2021 Recipient Henry Rogues III was released, who faces two felony charges of driving under the influence, and two felony charges of reckless driving after he crashed his car into the car of 23-year-old Tina Tintor.
“Policy is policy, and what we require our employees to comply with is just as important in Detroit as it is in Las Vegas,” said Kathy Lanier, the NFL’s chief security officer, referring to the league’s personal conduct policy. “We put a lot of effort into making sure everyone has all the tools they need to make a good decision no matter where they are.”
Whatever the security concerns, the strip’s allure, with its glamorous hotels and good-time trappings, would displace a growing event and allow the NFL to embrace a city it has rejected entirely.
“We look at popular spots wherever we go,” said Peter O’Reilly, head of events for NFL Las Vegas. It used to be a “destination, great market for events, and a great market for conventions, but is now a major sporting event market as well.”
Emmanuel Morgan Contribute to the preparation of reports.