Every weekend feels like a huge holiday weekend in Las Vegas these days. The last one was a monster—even with Memorial Day a month away and generally terrible weather, we had three larger-than-life concert events on one Saturday night (Billy Joel, Rihanna, Elton John) piled on top of an edgy music festival (Further Future), an annual food-culture blowout (Vegas Uncork’d) and the debut of a major nightlife venue (Intrigue).
And yet, all the Vegas buzz is about what could happen in the future, never marveling at our supercharged now. It hit me last Thursday night as I sped through the Spaghetti Bowl on my way to an Uncork’d/Intrigue doubleheader: silver-and-black billboards shouting “Viva Las Raiders!”
Almost exactly a year ago in this exact space, Las Vegas Weekly examined the present, in the fresh wake of Mayweather-Pacquiao and barreling ahead to Rock in Rio, EDC and NASCAR Weekend, recognizing that Vegas has so much going on we don’t really need a pro sports team. Any NFL team—let alone a storied franchise with a rabid fanbase in the 702—seemed an impossibility just a few months ago. Forget about the seemingly inevitable NHL expansion team that will play in our beautiful new T-Mobile Arena. Can the Las Vegas Raiders really be happening?
Despite team owner Mark Davis talking like a man on a mission and massive local support from Strip bosses Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn, a lot still has to happen to make our domed-stadium pro football dreams come true: public financing approved by the legislature, a three-fourths vote by NFL owners, blah blah, yadda yadda. But, “there’s been a sea change in the NFL’s attitude … how that plays out with us is interesting,” Wynn told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Flanked by soccer star David Beckham at a press conference last week, Davis said he would make the NFL an “offer they can’t refuse,” and that moving the Raiders to Vegas would be a “lifetime commitment.” In this pursuit, Las Vegas has nothing to lose. The entire Valley thrives when the Strip is in full bloom, and our post-recession petals have started to spread out. Welcome to spring in the desert.