Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank said the NFL needs more data to evaluate whether Las Vegas can support a franchise. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is open to the idea, stating Las Vegas’ entertainment, tourism and convention expertise outweigh any concerns over legalized sports gambling.
The NFL prefers distance with sports betting, and relocating a franchise to Las Vegas a few years back would’ve been summarily dismissed. The league is warming up to the idea, a fact discovered as the Raiders are making Las Vegas a top relocation option.
Owner Mark Davis pledged to move there if a $1.4 billion stadium proposal is approved, which makes Las Vegas a hot topic. Blank and Jones were polled on Vegas, but neither mentioned the Raiders by name.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft chimed in on Las Vegas and the Raiders specifically in a Friday interview with USA Today, making it clear he supports the prospect.
"I think it would be good for the NFL,” Kraft said. “I know Mark Davis has tried so hard in Oakland. If they won’t do it … I want to support him.”
The Raiders have struggled to make tangible progress on a new stadium in Oakland, prompting the team to look outside the market. They flirted with San Antonio and formally applied for Los Angeles relocation, but were rebuffed in favor of Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s Inglewood stadium project.
The Raiders could still end up in L.A., approved to become the market’s second team should the Chargers decline their priority option.
Las Vegas has become their priority. Davis offered $500 million -- $200 million of that comes from an NFL loan – to help finance the Las Vegas stadium, and believes he can get the league to approve relocation despite the region’s gambling stance.
Kraft’s attitude will help achieve that end.
“I came into the league in ’94,” Kraft said. “Back then, any exploration of that market was dismissed out of hand. I’m looking where we are today and thinking of the last 10 to 15 years, and the emergence of new media, with Google and Facebook and the like. We’re just living in a different world, technology wise. The risks in Vegas are no longer exclusive to Vegas.”
“…Whatever the risks, they are no greater (in Las Vegas) than playing a game in New Jersey.”