Las Vegas would be the NFL’s fifth-smallest media market

Getty Images

As Las Vegas touts itself as a possible home for an NFL team, owners have quickly shifted their questions from whether the league should have a team in a city best known for gambling to whether that city is big enough to support an NFL team.

Market size isn’t as important to the NFL as it is to the other major American sports leagues, but it does matter to the NFL: The league wants to be in markets with a lot of television households because the majority of the league’s money comes from the TV networks. The official NFL Record & Fact Book lists the Top 100 media markets in America, and that list shows that Las Vegas would be the NFL’s fifth-smallest market, if it had a team.

With 719,000 TV households, Las Vegas is larger than only four markets with NFL teams: Green Bay, Buffalo, New Orleans and Jacksonville. That’s why, as Falcons owner Arthur Blank pointed out, there are some concerns that the city simply might not be big enough to support an NFL team.

However, Vegas does have some advantages over other cities, from the NFL’s perspective: There are always lots of tourists there who might buy tickets to NFL games while they’re in town, and the Vegas market has historically had very strong TV ratings for NFL games. The league, of course, officially pretends that gambling isn’t the reason for those strong TV ratings, but whatever the reasons, Vegas has shown that it’s into the NFL.

Most importantly from the NFL’s perspective, Vegas has a plan in place for a fancy new stadium which would be financed with $150 million from the Sands Corporation and $750 million from taxpayers. If the Nevada legislature approves that $750 million, the NFL seems ready to accept the deal. Vegas is smaller than most NFL markets, but $750 million is too big for the NFL to turn down.

78 responses to “Las Vegas would be the NFL’s fifth-smallest media market

  1. I don’t care how small the market is – I just need another excuse to visit Vegas! I already go about 4 times a year. I would NEVER miss a Lion’s game in Vegas.

    I believe there are enough people in each market that will travel to Vegas to see their home team, just because it is in Vegas. I have no interest in visiting Minny, but I won’t miss a chance to visit Vegas again.

    The team will draw just fine.

  2. The Raiders have one of the most dedicated fan bases in the NFL and it’s not like all the fans in Oakland/CA are just going to stop watching the Raiders if they move to LV. Also, probably a lot of the fans from Oakland/CA will regularly travel to LV just for the games.

  3. Tourists don’t buy tickets,and neither does having a team in a city that is filled with transplants.
    On the surface Vegas sounds like a viable option but it will likely go the way of Jacksonville.

    The only benefit to Vegas is corporate sponsors.

  4. At least you could add Cincinnati and Kansas City to the list for San Antonio, although, combining San Antonio with Austin (which currently ranks 39th and is only an hour from San Antonio) would place it in the top 15 as far as television households go.

    I’m not really sure the NFL can be too picky about media markets when talking about a relocating Raiders team though.

    Sure, they’re leaving the San Francisco Bay Area which currently ranks 6th, but they still have the 49ers to hold down that market.

    The largest market without a team right now is #19, which is Orlando and I doubt the league would allow a team there with the Bucs and Jags so close, and most Florida teams having problems with attendance.

    Next is Sacramento at 20, but they can’t afford a stadium. They almost lost the Kings because of arena funding.

    St. Louis comes in at 21, but judging by the way Stan Kroenke and the league screwed them without lube, I doubt they’re an option.

    Portland is sitting at 24, but once again, stadium issues and the large Seahawks fanbase might prohibit that.

    Raleigh is at 25, but the NFL wouldn’t allow two teams in North Carolina.

    Hartford at 30, I doubt the league would want a 4th team in the New England/New York metro.

    Columbus at 31, too close to Cincinnati and Cleveland.

    San Antonio at 32, people scream that it’s too small and too close (5 hours) to Dallas.

    Salt Lake City is at 34, but mormon religion would probably prevent Sunday football.

    I’m sure Greenville, SC at 37 and West Palm Beach at 38 would be frowned upon.

    Austin at 39, see San Antonio at 32.

    Then comes Las Vegas.

    I think Vegas would be an epic failure as it’s the only place in this country that has a larger transient population than Florida. Most people in the city work the night shift and won’t even be awake at 11am for kickoffs.

    The casino’s and ticket brokers will buy all the tickets and price most fans out. Brokers will either eat the tickets and the stadium will always be half empty or the seats will be full of fans from the midwest that are there to root against the Raiders.

    If Davis moves to Vegas, it’s a money grab and that’s it.

    I used to think he actually cared about winning football games and his fathers legacy, the more he talks relocation of his franchise, the more it seems he’s only concerned about being a celebrity and making money.

  5. To Las Vegas, NFL football is just another form of entertainment.
    Just like they do with the many theatrical offerings, the large casino / hotels will commit to advance purchase blocks of season tickets to offer to their guests. I would be real surprised if they do not sell out all the seats, that should not be a concern. As indicated, TV ratings are already strong there. Point is, the small market size is not an issue due to the unique nature of that market.

  6. Easy workaround, configure the schedule so that the Rams and Raiders don’t overlap their home games.

    I’m certain there are more than enough Raider fans in LA to demand that the CBS in LA televise the Raider games in Vegas, and then there is DirecTV which minimizes the effect of local TV markets.

    Besides, a weekend long party on the Strip centered around a Raider home game will easily beat any old tailgate.

  7. A team’s market size is somewhat misleading. If you look at Green Bay it’s one of the 10 most valuable franchises in the NFL.

    Arthur Blank was the one to make this comment but New Orleans makes more revenue than his team does.

    In the case of Green Bay and New Orleans they are important to the regional tv markets.

    There is way more to making a successful franchise than just the size of the tv market. LA is the 2nd largest market but historically couldn’t support a franchise.

    Overall, I think Las Vegas makes a ton of sense. I’m willing to bet that any available tickets each week would be bought by the casino’s and given as comps to their customers and employees. This would go a long way to making the franchise successful.

  8. Then you have LA. Which is big enough, but still failed to keep an NFL team multiple times.

  9. Why wouldnt they do it? Should have had a team years ago. Las Vegas Chargers. Las Vegas Raiders. Las Vegas Rams. Las Vegas Lions. There it is. Lets just move my Lions there and Ill follow.

  10. NFL football’s popularity is directly related to the amount of money waged on a weekly basis, outright betting, office pools picking the winners, and betting on the game’s stats (over/under, point spreads, fantasy football).

    So Las Vegas is the perfect choice whether the NFL wants to recognize the betting or not.

  11. They could always fleece the citizens of Las Vegas and sell them “stock” to earn revenue for the team. Of course, it wouldn’t be real stock, just paper with the Raiders logo on it.

  12. The NFL might need to reword their CBA, particularly the “knowingly associates with gamblers or gambling activity” part.

    15. INTEGRITY OF GAME. Player recognizes the detriment to the League and professional football that would result from impairment of public confidence in the honest and orderly conduct of NFL games or the integrity and good character of NFL players. Player therefore acknowledges his awareness that if he accepts a bribe or agrees to throw or fix an NFL game; fails to promptly report a bribe offer or an attempt to throw or fix an NFL game; bets on an NFL game; knowingly associates with gamblers or gambling activity; uses or provides other players with stimulants or other drugs for the purpose of attempting to enhance on-field performance; or is guilty of any other form of conduct reasonably judged by the League Commissioner to be detrimental to the League or professional football, the Commissioner will have the right, but only after giving Player the opportunity for a hearing at which he may be represented by counsel of his choice, to fine Player in a reasonable amount; to suspend Player for a period certain or indefinitely; and/or to terminate this contract.

  13. If the league or Las Vegas(the casinos) could figure out a way of bulk buying the tickets, then selling tickets to individual games directly to the fans (rather than having a middle man (i.e. scalper) take a big bite) then they could probably charge a lot for tickets. If you are a Chiefs or Lions fan, who goes to LA, this is a way to get in an extra game, without having to pay for PSLs or pre-season tickets. That may be worth a premium (say an extra 20% in ticket cost, maybe $20-$50 per ticket, or more for the expensive ones).

    As for small media market – what would replace the Raiders home games in the Oakland area? Another Ca team? OR show the LV Raiders games?

    Would this be a case of – Las Vegas is great for an owner, but bad for the league?

  14. So there are four cities smaller that support teams, yet Las Vegas might not be big enough? I mean it doesn’t matter that Blank or any other owner thinks anyway, because the raiders have proven in court that they need no approval so this whole debate about owner approval is silly and driven by the media for internet hits.

  15. If a city as lame as Green Bay can have a team why not Vegas? As T.O. said, “There ain’t a damn thing to do in Green Bay”, and that is so true. The town basically shuts down and goes to sleep during the off-season. Can’t say that about any other NFL city.

  16. If you follow a team, but don’t attend the games, then what difference does it make if your team is near you or in Las Vegas, provided it’s televised locally?

    New fans will get to watch the games.

    Maybe fans with season tickets will be annoyed, since they can no longer go to games?

  17. I can see several casinos besides the Sands partnering with the state, especially when you consider they can book their own performers there.

  18. Lets say there are 2 cities A and B.

    A – totally tax payer financed, with sell outs, and high ticket prices. But in a small media market.

    B – large media market, but the stadium costs wont be subsidized by the taxpayer so the owner pays a lot out of pocket. Ticket prices are above average but not high, and if the team is terrible for a few years, not all tickets will be sold. So the owner overall makes less money than city A.

    Which would the NFL prefer?

  19. Las Vegas is a fantastic destination..
    The Raiders Daily was on Yahoo Sports this weekend and he said it best, “Raider Nation is bigger than Oakland not to mention The XFL sold out games in Vegas and the NFL is a lot bigger than the XFL”
    He is 100% correct… If you are in Vegas, You won’t even care who is playing you will go see an NFL game!

  20. Well in the day and age of social media and Internet does media market size really matter anymore? I can imagine casinos bringing in high rollers for each visiting team.

  21. Las Vegas Raiders seems appropriate. And what the H does the TV market have to do with it, here is revenue sharing with TV contracts. Plus, half the stadium will be full with a opposing fans. The main problem is 23-26 year olds with money trying to be professional in Vegas…not an easy task.

  22. Market size doesnt mean much to a teams success. Its more about tailoring the team to fit the fan.

    With Buffalo as an example, the owners there have kept ticket prices lower making the games and stadium more accessible to the lower income fans. As a result, the place has been sold out for near a decade despite all the losing seasons and theyve posted top 10 in the NFL local TV ratings for the past 5 years.

    If you cater to your fans, you get a more dedicated fanbase

  23. The Las Vegas Raiders would always fill the stadium every game.thousands of visiting fans would come every home game especially those from cold weather climes in Nov and Dec. add the LV Raiders home fans and there will be full houses.

  24. You all know we’re being played right? Now that the L.A. threat is gone, this is just Herr Goodell and his minions’ next target to bilk taxpayers out of their hard-earned money. Subsidies for billionaires. Great.

    Next it will be San Antonio. Then London. Ugh. Screw these owners. Leave the game alone.

  25. Buffalo gets 10’s of thousands of Canadian fans every game and they still have trouble selling out.

    Just contract baby.

  26. The league is going to try and position the Chargers as the primary L.V team if the S.D stadium initiative doesnt go through. Then the Raiders will get L.A as a tenent in Kroenkeworld if the Chargers pass. Either way, it appears worse case scenario its gonna be Vegas all to the Raiders or the L.A Raiders with the Chargers 270 miles away instead of 120. Well played Mark Davis.

  27. Isn’t Vegas also one of the fastest growing cities in the country? Even if they aren’t, their metropolitan population is over 2 million. Not to mention, Nevada is a fairly untapped state as a whole…

  28. Las Vegas would suck the soul from a team. Let’s see, a team that makes money from out of town fans whether it wins or loses lol sounds like a quality product. This can’t be the real plan. It has to be a leverage ploy.

  29. Anyone who questions the integrity of having a NFL in Vegas because of the gambling aspect is flat out ignorant!

    I have lived in Vegas now for 14 years & have worked at several casinos
    The gambling industry is HIGHLY regulated!

    In fact many sports gambling scandals around the country have been exposed by Las Vegas gaming officials! It’s our business & we do it better than any other gaming city in the World!

    We have to, or no one would to gamble because they would know it was all a scam, right??

    Besides….the NFL execs are such hypocrites!
    The NFL has played games in London for 30 years & there is a casino ACROSS THE STREET from Wembley Stadium!!!

  30. Besides that ridiculous tax package, this is why this won’t happen, and people saying it isn’t a big deal have no clue how the NFL’s business model works. Comparing it to the other small markets is silly because 2 of them they’ve been trying to get out of until recently in Buffalo’s case (and that might be revisited after the new ownership smell wears off with that old stadium), and New Orleans is uniquely situated to support that team, even though the NFL actually tried to leave there too. Green Bay goes without saying since they’re an NFL team that has roots from another era that makes any comparison with Las Vegas a moot point. Then, you throw in that going from one of the nation’s most affluent markets in the Bay to Las Vegas with it’s economically working class transient population, and I don’t see anyway most of the NFL owners let this happen. The only reason Jerry Jones is behind it is because he doesn’t want the Raiders in San Antonio.

  31. The Las Vegas Raiders would always fill the stadium every game.thousands of visiting fans would come every home game especially those from cold weather climes in Nov and Dec. add the LV Raiders home fans and there will be full houses.
    _____________________________________
    You know this how? Marketing studies? Newflash, the absolute top draw in Vegas is gambling, not hoping that fans of visiting teams would automatically travel there. The average fan cant afford home games let alone road trips! Fact!!

  32. Someone should look at the history of horse racing and jai alai in Las Vegas. Dead flops. The casinos will have no interest in sending any patrons to games so they better have another group to draw from. They want them at the tables. Even boxing ran its course.

  33. I lived in Vegas for 8 years. Every team has it’s own “Official Bar of the _____.” The Raiders already have a tremendous fan base in Vegas. This stems from geography. Almost equal distance between 5 teams. Chargers, Cardinals, Broncos, 49ers, and Raiders. Raiders fans outnumber all of the other teams combined in Vegas because of their stint in L.A. The poster from Detroit made a great point about tourism. There are far worse cities to visit when you are traveling with your team, but no city has more available hotel space.

  34. The amount of money floating around Las Vegas is a bigger factor than the number of TV households there. A team in that market will make money. It’s that simple.

  35. eapear says:
    May 16, 2016 8:14 AM

    The NFL might need to reword their CBA, particularly the “knowingly associates with gamblers or gambling activity” part.
    —————————-

    Why? Doesn’t that stuff still apply?

    Are you one of those bozos that can’t wrap their head around the distinction between sports gambling and regular gambling?

  36. Seriously…that market will include parts of Utah as well. And with REVENUE SHARING…who cares! The networks continue to pump billions into the NFL.

    And Raiders are not moving to Vegas. Mayor doesn’t think she’s getting played…she must not play poker.

  37. There is only 32 cities that get live NFL football on a regular basis. That means there are a bazillion other cities that don’t. I can ‘bet’ Mr and Mrs Sixpack will now have an excuse to go to Vegas for a fun weekend. He gets the game, she pulls the slots or shops or some sh@t and they have a blast seeing their team the ‘whatevers’ now for a weekend. Think of the amount of conventions that will have 3, 4 thousand tickets as part of the package etc…. Heck, 30 elvis weddings at halftime at once., showgirls for cheerleaders (the hottest in the country) Cirq d’ sole pre shows, flying acrobats with cameras, laser shows, fireworks god where does it end!… For me, even tho I live in one of the 32, I would def go to Vegas if my team was playing!

  38. Polosgroundvet….did you seriously invoke horse racing & jai alai has reasons NOT to bring NFL to Vegas????

    Horse racing failed because Vegas is a DESERT!!
    Jai alai would fail in every U.S. Except Miami!!

    Most of these “experts” here who claim Vegas couldn’t support a team have never actually LIVED in Vegas, just visited

    I’ve lived here 14 years, there are nearl two million people in the Las Vegas, Henderson, Summerlin areas
    There are PLENTY of people here to support a team

  39. There are at least 8 teams where Daily Fantasy Sites have become major sponsors of locations within NFL stadiums.

    Yet league owners are hypocritical enough to play the “can’t move to Las Vegas due to gambling connections” card?

    If an NFL player agrees to throw a game, he can do it from Jacksonville just as easily as from Las Vegas.

  40. It would be a blast to go to an NFL game in Vegas, but if I was the Raiders, I would be worried about losing a home field advantage.

    Every week there would be thousands of fans cheering for the other team.

  41. Las Vegas has no corporate base outside of the casino/tourism industry. To outsiders who don’t have a deep level of economic insight, Vegas seems like this huge economy, but it is actually a small economy and small market. Vegas is also highly prone to major downturns as the economy is based on consumer discretionary spending, which is the first/main spending that is cut during recessions.

  42. mmack66 says:
    May 16, 2016 10:51 AM

    eapear says:
    May 16, 2016 8:14 AM

    The NFL might need to reword their CBA, particularly the “knowingly associates with gamblers or gambling activity” part.
    —————————-

    Why? Doesn’t that stuff still apply?

    Are you one of those bozos that can’t wrap their head around the distinction between sports gambling and regular gambling?

    __________

    No just one of those bozos that realizes that if the commissioner can make up penalties for equipment violations that don’t exist in the CBA (and claim integrity), he could have a field day with integrity penalties for real rules that actually exist in the CBA.

  43. Like San Diego and Los Angeles (two much much larger markets) — there is a LOT to do in Vegas. A LOT. So small market and bazillions of other options translates to poor market for an NFL team.

    San Diego’s fan base gets mixed reviews, and Los Angeles’s enormous fanbase has to get poor reviews, having lost both the Rams and Raiders not all that long ago.

    I don’t see comparatively tiny Vegas with seventeen-million cool things to do – cutting it. The sizzling weather in Vegas is a lot more unforgiving than SoCal too, so that’s yet another drawback.

  44. Every game would no doubt be sold out to who ever which will lead to a loss of home field advantage, so for all those Raider fans who are wanting this to happen careful what u ask for cuz home field is huge in the NFL! Oh and kiss the best tailgating experience in the NFL goodbye cuz it ain’t happening on the acreage they are giving and the heat well nuff said! This sounds fun but in reality it would be a ugly Circus act!!

  45. St. Louis is the 21st biggest media market in that list to Las Vegas’ 40th, and also ranks 21st in GDP to 38th for Vegas.

    weird stuff this franchise relocation business

  46. The NFL would do just fine attendance-wise with just 8 regular season dates to fill. But there have been a couple studies done that seriously questioned whether basketball or hockey would work with 40+ dates. Lots of competition from other entertainment options and a disproportionately large percentage of the populace works offbeat hours in the gaming industry which makes it tough to be a season ticket holder. They’ll always be far more dependent on out-of-towners than most cities.

  47. ohand16 says:
    May 16, 2016 9:06 AM

    Sounds like good reason to eliminate Green Bay and Buffalo from the NFL.
    __________________________________
    Better reason to eliminate your team, The Cleveland Browns.

  48. I think the team can create their own “home field advantage” by marketing with local hotel/casinos. Need to promote it correctly with comp or free nights with a Raider win. That will definitely get some people cheering.

  49. Market size doesn’t matter, eh?

    Explain why we have 13 Dallas Cowboys games on national TV this year even though Tony Romo hasn’t played 16 games since 2012.

  50. I wonder if the owners got together and decided to award Arthur Blank a franchise in Las
    Vegas if his tune would change?

  51. Raiders are the team that would have the most success in Vegas. Raider Nation knows no boundries.

  52. Las Vegas is wayyyy too hot!

    Sincerely,

    Phoenix

    (which is 5-10 degrees hotter on most days)

  53. Who cares if they are a small media market. LV is a high growth cash cow. If they can come up with a billion dollar indoor stadium, it would be well worth it.

  54. Don’t do it… Raiders will make the playoffs this year and a new stadium in Oakland will be under way!

  55. Don’t do it… Raiders will make the playoffs this year…………..
    _____________________________________

    wash, spin, rinse, repeat every year for the last 14 and running.

  56. Raiders are the team that would have the most success in Vegas. Raider Nation knows no boundries.
    ____________________________________

    is that why your stadium in Oakland is covered with tarps on game days?

  57. To try to appeal to more fans, the Raiders can take the name of the state and become the “Nevada Raiders.”

    It will be dumb to have 3-4 “lame duck” years in Oakland. Sam Boyd Stadium needs to be expanded/improved to become a temporary home for the Raiders. The Vikings played in a college stadium while their new palace was being built. The Rams are playing three seasons in USC’s home until their amazing palace is finished.

  58. The Vegas NFL stadium might be the first stadium with more luxury boxes than regular seats. Every casino would have a handful, at least, to accomodate all kinds of high rollers and junket types.

  59. That drive from the bay area through Yosemite and down out of the mountains into Nevada, then onto Vegas is incredible… Raider fans will love it.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.