Las Vegas Now A Big League City; Will That Mean Big Opportunities?
The NFL season begins tonight with the New England Patriots hosting the Kansas City Chiefs. In three years, it will be Las Vegas’ turn, when the Raiders kick off their inaugural season in Southern Nevada.
Between now and then billions will be injected into the Las Vegas economy as the planned domed stadium gets built and the team brings its hefty payroll to Southern Nevada.
And when the Raiders do arrive, they will find they’re the second major league team to call Las Vegas home. The NHL’s Golden Knights begin play next month, elevating Las Vegas to big league status.
What this all means remains to be seen, but the decision to divert tax dollars to construction of the Raiders stadium was justified as a boost to the economy.
"My assumption is that tourist assets in Nevada are used heavily," Robert Lang of the Brookings West Institute at UNLV, "Even Thomas & Mack for example, which is just a college stadium that was built in the early 80s, ended up becoming one of the more important venues in the United States. It was one of the most heavily used venues in the United States."
Lang has long supported the use of public money to fund projects that will improve Southern Nevada's core industry: travel and tourism. He believes the live entertainment tax should be invested back into infrastructure and other projects along the resort corridor where the tax is mainly collected.
He believes the arrival of big league sports will help boost areas of Nevada's economy that have lagged behind like business and professional services, finance and advertising.
"We have a real ability to translate and upgrade our status as a major metropolitan area off of the NFL team better than most cities would," he said.
Peter Guzman is the CEO of the Latin Chamber of Commerce. He said the economic boost is not something in the far future for his members.
"We already have a couple of members working on that site through fencing and things of that nature," he said, "We're seeing it turn into economic development immediately."
Beyond the stuff you can put a price tag on, Guzman believes what the community will get back from the NFL will go beyond just money.
"If you look at the Oakland Raiders - their model - what they've done in their cities... the givebacks that they've done it's massive. It's just incredible," he said, "Some of the things they've done, I don't know how you put a price tag on it. How do you put a price tag when their star quarterback goes into an elementary school or a junior high school and reads books to kids."
Nehme Abouzeid is a marketing consultant who used to work for the Vegas Golden Knights. He said that connecting with the community to the team is part of the package when getting a big league team.
"It's going to improve tourism in Las Vegas and it's going to be a boon to locals," he said, "It's really going to galvanize the community."
Abouzeid said the support for the Golden Knights has already been overwhelming with people and businesses around the state reaching out to ask how they can get involved.
Uri Vaknin is a real estate developer and works with a company that bought several high rise condominium buildings in Las Vegas, including One Las Vegas on Las Vegas Boulevard South.
Vaknin said many of his buyers over the past few months have said they are buying at that building because of its proximity to the stadium.
"They felt like it was going to add to the value, add to the economy, also it was going to improve their life," he said.
Abouzeid said the valley already has affordable housing and a low tax base to attract people and businesses but the area still needs to diversify the economy.
"If we don't have these game changers like a stadium, like a sports teams coming that's not going to bump up what Robert Lang said about professional service firms coming," he said, "The sports teams are going to have a multiplier affect on all the businesses in the valley from professional services to law firms to ad agencies."
Guzman agrees and he doesn't believe that Las Vegas isn't already a "big boy" city.
"I think that the economic development that's going to come from that inevitably everybody is going to benefit from that," he said.
Robert Lang, Brookings Mountain West think tank; Nehme Abouzeid, marketing consultant; Uri Vaknin, real estate developer; Peter Guzman, CEO, Latin Chamber of Commerce