Roger Goodell: Las Vegas Has Become ‘Sports Town USA’
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sat down with Las Vegas Raiders president Sandra Douglass Morgan earlier this week for a Host Committee brunch ahead of Super Bowl LVIII, which will be held in Las Vegas, Nev., in February.
Goodell had some high praise for the city, which inherited the Raiders from Oakland in 2020.
“You really have become Sports Town USA,” Goodell said about Las Vegas earlier this week. “You really have, and that vision was set out, that vision was clear. We wanted to be a part of it, and I think when that happened, everything seemed to change and the stadium obviously is a key component of that. It’s one of the reasons we struggled in Oakland is being able to get a long-term stadium that would work for us. Great news is this is home for us, so we’re glad to be here.
“I’m going to credit this community because I think you’ve changed the city on a global basis. It is an extraordinary entertainment city and I think people see this city in a different way. Sports may be part of that, but we’re all part of, I think every one of the sports that are represented here today would say that you’ve changed that, you’ve changed that narrative, you’ve changed that image, you’ve changed that platform.
“And I think, I probably would not have said 10 years ago, that I would see myself sitting here for a Super Bowl. But I’m not surprised.”
He’s not incorrect in the sense that Las Vegas has slowly, but surely become one of the biggest “sports towns” nationwide.
In the early 1990s, the town was home to basketball powerhouse UNLV, who made eight straight NCAA Tournament appearances with a National Title in 1989-90 after finishing as the runner-up the year prior. The city annually hosts myriad men’s and women’s college basketball conference tournaments, such as the Pac-12, Mountain West, Big West and WCC tournaments.
Professionally, the Las Vegas Aces, its WNBA team that re-located from San Antonio prior to 2018, are winners of back-to-back league titles; MLB owners unanimously voted in favor of the Oakland Athletics moving to Las Vegas last month; the Las Vegas sphere will also play host the 2024 NHL Draft as well as Noche UFC 2024.
Heck, the city will be leading candidates–along with Seattle–for NBA expansion when the new TV deal kicks in over the next couple of years; Superstar LeBron James, a part of Fenway Sports Group (which owns Liverpool, the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Penguins), has already made it known that he wants a stake in ownership if that ever comes into fruition.
Las Vegas also recently played host to the NFL Draft and the Pro Bowl, two of the NFL’s biggest events in the calendar year.
“This community has become so much more than just a sports town, so much more that it is really, in many ways. the entertainment capital of the world,” Goodell said. “So for us to be able to have that kind of platform, the stadium, obviously it’s our stage for the Super Bowl, we saw that almost immediately. As a matter of fact, Mark Davis really from Day 1 said, ‘When are we getting the Super Bowl?’
“Literally, I don’t think he had even gotten into town yet and he was talking about it. But I think all of our owners at this time understood we were going to be playing a lot of our big events here. The Super Bowl included, right from Day 1.
“Listen, I turn over at night about a lot of things, but not about Las Vegas being able to really pull this off, with really great class.”
This might only be the beginning for Sin City in the sports world, especially with Gambling becoming more prominent globally. Even though Fanduel and DraftKings are not legal in Nevada, Vegas could be considered the epicenter for it all … and it’s only going to continue to grow as time progresses.
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