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The Future of Sports is in Vegas

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The Future of Sports is in Vegas

Shane Palma, Editor in Chief

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If the recent sports trends continue, what happens in Vegas will no longer stay in Vegas.

Between the unprecedented inaugural campaign for the NHL expansion franchise Vegas Golden Knights, the Supreme Court decision in Murphy vs. National Collegiate Athletic Association that legalized sports gambling, and the upcoming arrival of the historic Oakland Raiders, it is only a matter of time before sports fans speak of Las Vegas in the same breath as New York and Los Angeles as one of the largest sports markets in the country.

News stations and other media outlets have labeled Las Vegas as a “strong and growing economy,” one that is “booming once again.” The glitz and glamour of the Vegas strip has been attracting tourists since the 1960s, but could the next guests be potential franchise owners?

In 2016, the NHL announced that it was adding an expansion team to the league, and after a thorough process, Las Vegas was selected as the destination. While hockey had made its way into Nevada in 1991, there had never been a professional franchise from the four major sports to play in the city. On October 1, 2017, only weeks before the Golden Knights were set to open its historic season, a mass shooting took place at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. The tragedy resulted in 59 casualties, the deadliest attack by one individual in American history. The Golden Knights played their season in honor of the victims with the slogan “Vegas Strong.” Not only did the team exceed expectations, but it made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, losing to the Washington Capitals in five games. Vegas not only rallied together to support each other, it also established one of the NHL’s most passionate fan bases.

The next franchise with a scheduled flight to Las Vegas will be the Oakland Raiders and owner Mark Davis, who filed for the team’s relocation two years after the Golden Knights. After failing to land a spot in Los Angeles, Davis figured the “Black Hole” would do best in the brightest city on earth. Although the move has only led to angst for fans in California, it will eventually allow the franchise to prosper in more ways than one. Not only will they know longer have to share a dilapidated stadium with the Oakland Athletics, but head coach John Gruden will get a fresh start that could come as early as 2019, as the Raiders may play one year outside of Las Vegas before the official move in 2020. The Raiders are currently at 2-8 and projected to have the 2nd pick in the NFL draft. This is in addition to the two other first-round selections they amassed from the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys in the trades for Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. A new city with many new faces on the roster is exactly what the franchise needs. And what the fans will be excited for. The NFL has already considered Las Vegas as a potential site for a future Super Bowl.

Along with the debut of the Las Vegas Lights FC soccer club and the Mets Triple-A affiliate in the 51s, the city quickly establishing itself as a professional-sports haven. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has also expressed interest in expanding baseball to Nevada while NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has not ruled it out either. 

What was once considered taboo, a professional sports franchise in a city that permits sports gambling, is now seen as inevitable. As more and more states transition to legalized gambling (New Jersey has already done so), the argument against Las Vegas becomes increasingly less powerful. It might not be immediate, but the emergence of Las Vegas as an American sports mecca is on the horizon.

Shane Palma, Editor in Chief

Shane Palma is a senior at Floral Park Memorial and is excited to finish out his high school career with The Shield. After joining the newspaper last year,...

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