Las Vegas: Finally, the Raiders are set to play in a brand new stadium in the heart of the city.
No, not the Canberra Raiders. The Oakland Raiders, who are set to relocate to Las Vegas for the 2020 NFL season and play out of a brand new, 65,000 seat, $1.84 billion stadium with a retractable roof a short walk away from the strip.
The franchise will become the Las Vegas Raiders and reap the rewards of having a state of the art venue a short walk from the centre of one of the busiest boulevards on the globe.
It is a concept the Canberra Raiders and ACT Brumbies have been dreaming of for years with crowds dropping at Canberra Stadium, which effectively sits in the middle of a ghost town and boasts no game day atmosphere.
The Brumbies are in danger of posting one of their worst season average attendance numbers in the Super Rugby club's history while Canberra's crowd figures have dropped off during the NRL season.
Both clubs have made no secret of their desire for a new stadium in the city, which has been put on the backburner but remains on the cards as the ACT government appears likely to buy Canberra Stadium.
Jeremy Aguero is the principal for Las Vegas-based company Applied Analysis, which serves as the staff for the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, and says a new stadium in one of the world's most famous cities will make for an unrivalled game day atmosphere.
"Theres no doubt that it is very close to the Las Vegas strip," Aguero told Fairfax Media.
"The expectation is the stadium itself will have a significant impact on the community, both in terms of construction of the project – its a $1.84 billion project so already creating jobs for hundreds of construction workers to work on the project.
"Longer term, the events that will be at the stadium are pretty significant. We anticipate about a million visitors as a result of the stadiums existence which will mean filled hotel rooms and restaurants and those type of things which are very important."
Stadium backers expect upwards of 25 major events to be held in the stadium each year, ranging from NFL games as big as the Super Bowl to UFC and boxing events, concerts, and potentially the FIFA World Cup.
Meanwhile about $1.3 million will be spent on improving Canberra Stadium this year, with upgrades due for player and officials match rooms to meet territory guidelines on sporting facilities supporting women, new turf, a new electronic scoreboard and video replay screen for the 2020 football season.
Barr admits a redevelopment of Canberra Stadium would require the growth of a surrounding precinct, however already existing restaurants, pubs and clubs make building a Civic Stadium an ideal option.
Aguero expects Las Vegas will benefit in a huge way with the city's constant buzz “making a long weekend out of it for the people that are coming specifically for Raiders games”.
"I dont think there is any doubt. Were already seeing it with the Golden Knights NHL hockey team," Aguero said.
"Of course they play at a different venue, the T-Mobile Arena, which was constructed in 2016. In the Golden Knights inaugural season we saw 30 per cent, plus or minus, of tickets being sold to fans from the opposing team.
"Of course some of those would be fans that live here but weve heard from hotel and casino operators that a number of fans are coming from out of town.
"That is driving the number of hotel rooms, but again Las Vegas has had the ability to do that. We have the T-Mobile Arena, we have the MGM Grand Garden Arena, we have the Mandalay Bay Events Center, all of which have been able to attract larger events.
"From a Raiders perspective, thats a real positive."
The same thing could be a real positive in Canberra if a deal can be struck to build a stadium in the city and reignite interest in the region's leading sports teams.
*Caden Helmers is in Las Vegas as a guest of Duco Events.
Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times
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