New York Giants co-owner, president and CEO John Mara said he was "open-minded" about having an NFL team in Las Vegas at last week's NFL owners' meetings, according to The MMQB's Jenny Vrentas, who spoke to several other NFL owners about a team possibly moving there.
The Oakland Raiders remain the most heavily linked with a potential move to Las Vegas—they have a one-year stadium lease in Oakland, the option for two more one-year leases beyond that and recently failed in a bid to relocate to Los Angeles—though relocating would require an extensive plan and financing for a new stadium, along with the approval of 24 of the NFL's 32 owners.
Mara discussed how he'd approach such a move:
I would want to hear a presentation about it and the pros and cons, and obviously there are some concerns, but I am not going to rule it out. The gambling, is the market deep enough to support an NFL team, what kind of stadium would be there, what kind of support are they going to get from the community? Those would be the concerns.
Mara wouldn't guess about the future of the NFL in Las Vegas just yet, though.
"Until there is actually a presentation with all the pros and cons, I wouldn’t bet one way or the other at this point," he told Vrentas.
That is a major departure from his stance in March, when Mara told Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk) that “most owners” would view a relocation by the Raiders—or any organization, for that matter—to Las Vegas as a “non-starter."
It's not just Mara who seems to have changed his mind.
Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie told Vrentas he'd "be open to it," though he was concerned about whether it would be a good NFL market.
"It has to support 70,000 every weekend," Lurie added. "It is not an NBA team, like say the [Oklahoma City] Thunder, which does an incredible job of supporting their smaller market. We have got to make sure it really will support a team if a team goes there, but I am open to it.”
Jed York of the San Francisco 49ers said he would take a wait-and-see approach, while Bob McNair of the Houston Texans said he "would look favorably at it." Woody Johnson of the New York Jets called it "a very exciting market."
Nevada is a very good place from a tax standpoint, very low taxes and no income tax. It depends what the deal is with the stadium, and with operating it, and what the league and Mark [Davis] feel are the opportunities there—if he feels he can fill up the stadium and get enough economic traction there with sponsors and all that.
The owners Vrentas talked to mostly agreed that gambling wasn't a major issue—or at least not as big of an issue as it was considered around 10 to 20 years ago.
The possibility of the Raiders moving to Las Vegas seems to be gaining serious traction. As Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reported last week, "Those who have spoken to [Raiders owner Mark Davis] in recent months say he's absolutely serious about being the first major pro sports owner to put a team in Las Vegas, but there are financial and political hurdles that must be cleared."
On that point, the NFL owners seem to agree wholeheartedly. If Davis and the city of Las Vegas can convince the owners those financial and political hurdles aren't too cumbersome, however, the NFL could very well be on its way to Las Vegas.
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