There’s been a whole lot of noise lately about a new attraction coming to Vegas. No, it’s not another soft rock musician’s residency, and it’s most definitely not another Cirque du Soleil show. The word on the street is that the Oakland Raiders are looking for a new home, and that new home may just be Las Vegas. It’s a possibility that’s exciting to NFL fans, but even if you don’t care for football, it’s worth thinking about how a Vegas-based team could affect the city.
A New Stadium
A new sports team almost assures one other thing coming to the city: a new stadium. The whole reason the Raiders are trying to move is because their current home, the Oakland Coliseum, is also the home of the Oakland A’s. Well, that stadium isn’t big enough for the both of them, and while there is a slight chance that the two teams could build a new stadium in place of the Coliseum, there are various deals in place that make it difficult to do quickly. For the Raiders, a new stadium needs to come sooner rather than later, hence the possible move to a new city.
Not Much of an Economic Impact Itself
You would think that a newly-built stadium would have a huge impact on the city it’s built in. After all, for the potential billions a stadium would cost to build, the city should feel some of the return on that investment. But according to the economists interviewed in this Marketplace article, a new stadium doesn’t have much of an economic impact on a city–perhaps less than one percent of an impact. This is because sports stadiums don’t typically spur new spending among a city’s residents. That is, a person who attends a sports game is likely to spend less on going out somewhere else. That said, a Las Vegas stadium could bring in people from Utah, whose closest NFL teams are the Denver Broncos and the Arizona Cardinals, both farther away from Las Vegas.
Could Spur New Development
Despite the mixed economic signals of the potential new stadium itself, there are other economic effects that go beyond just the stadium. After all, a new development doesn’t exist in a vacuum. That is, it affects the areas around it and can spur new developments. This Citylab article uses Indianapolis as an example of a city that saw huge benefits from a renewed investment in sports, which attracted new business and helped lead it to become a thriving city. Could the same be true for sports in Las Vegas? It’s tough to say, because Las Vegas is already highly developed, and if the new stadium is built on the already-attractive Strip–which is what the rumors point to–there won’t be much room for new development opportunities.
A New Sense of Community
A new sports team isn’t just about a stadium, though.The economic effects of a new stadium aside, there’s something to be said about just having a team to root for in your home city. Sports teams have a way of bringing communities together. Take a walk down the streets of Chicago or Boston, where there is a huge sports presence, and you’ll see fans wearing jerseys and sports bars waving their teams’ flags. That’s not something Vegas really has at the moment.
Whether or not Las Vegas ends up getting the Raiders, it would be very interesting to see how a national sports team would fare in the city. It’d be something pretty new for the city, which up until now has only hosted minor league teams. Can you imagine tuning into ESPN to see the highlights of your city’s game? Or walking into a bar and seeing proud fans having a good time supporting their local team? That’s something you can’t put a price tag on.