A sports economist says that the Raiders won't work in Las Vegas

Although Raiders owner Mark Davis seems convinced that moving his team to Las Vegas makes sense, not everyone feels the same way.

John Vrooman, a sports economist at Vanderbilt University, says that it would be a horrible idea for the Raiders to move to Vegas.

"The Raiders would be desert-locked in a small economically isolated and lopsided Vegas," Vrooman recently told USA Today. "The Broncos rule the Mountain West. The [Cardinals] now rule the Southwest desert. The 49ers have got [Northern California] locked down, and that leaves the Rams and Bolts to split SoCal. There is no ... economic room for the Raiders and the Vegas market doesn't have the size or depth to carry the club."

Does a Raiders move to Vegas make sense? USATSI

One potential problem in Vegas is the size of the market. If the Raiders were to move to Sin City, they'd be located in the NFL's fifth-smallest media market. Only Green Bay, New Orleans, Jacksonville and Buffalo are smaller.

In such a small market, it's possible that the Raiders could have trouble selling tickets after the novelty of the move wears off.

At least one NFL owner seems to feel the same way. Back in May, Falcons owner Arthur Blank sounded skeptical about the Raiders chances of succeeding in Vegas.

"I think whether or not there are enough people in Las Vegas to support a team is a question," Blank said at the time. "I haven't seen the data on that to support it or not support it. It's certainly a dynamic market."

It's not clear how much data the Raiders have collected, but whatever they have so far, they're not sharing it publicly. The team sent out an 83-question survey in late June in an attempt to see just how interested Vegas residents are in landing the Raiders.

One of the big questions in a possible move is whether or tourists would actually show up for a game. Blank conceded that the market can grow, but no one knows if people will actually leave an air-conditioned casino on a Sunday to attend an NFL game.

"It's a growth market," Blank said. "It's got tremendous tourism, a lot of convention business. So it's certainly a consideration. We'll see what the facts bear."

Another possible problem is that gamblers won't be able to gamble. If you're in Vegas betting on NFL games, you're not going to be able to do that if you're at the game, because there's no way the league is going to allow people to bet on NFL games at an NFL game.

The other problem with the stadium right now is the potential price.

At a July 11 meeting of the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, the discussion centered around the fact that the price tag of the proposed 65,000-seat stadium could go up from $1.4 billion to $2.1 billion.

The Raiders are hoping the SNTIC will recommend a stadium plan to the Nevada State Legislature that would call for the public to pay for $750 million of the stadium through a hotel tax in Vegas. The state of Nevada wasn't thrilled with that number, and a second plan was presented that only called for between $500 million and $550 million in public funding.


The Raiders and their casino partner would chip in a total of $650 million. However, that math only works if the cost of the stadium is $1.4 billion. If the cost goes up, something's going to have to give.

Although there's no guarantee the Raiders are going to move, the chances will go way up if the the public contribution in Vegas ends up being $750 million or more.

The SNTIC has until Sept. 30 to recommend a stadium proposal to the governor's office. The group's original deadline was July 31, but the governor gave the SNTIC a 60-day extension so the group could have more time to consider the nine possible locations for the stadium.

If things don't workout in Las Vegas, the Raiders could end up staying in Oakland or possibly moving to Los Angeles.

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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