Arthur Blank: More data needed that Vegas can support NFL team

ByVaughn McClure ESPN logo
Friday, May 13, 2016

ATLANTA -- Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank understands the allure of having an NFL franchise in Las Vegas, but Blank said he wants to make sure the city is fully committed to supporting a team before he can advocate such a move.

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis made clear his intentions to relocate the team to Las Vegas. Such a transition would require approval from at least 24 of the 32 league owners, whenever it comes to vote.

"I think whether or not there are enough people in Las Vegas to support a team is a question," Blank told Friday. "I haven't seen the data on that to support it or not support it. It's certainly a dynamic market. It's a growth market. It's got tremendous tourism, a lot of convention business. So it's certainly a consideration. We'll see what the facts bear.

"I want to see all the research on whether [Las Vegas] can support a franchise or not. It's no different than any other city we look at."

Naturally, there will be discussion about how the gambling that drives Las Vegas, specifically sports betting, would affect the public's perception of that city hosting an NFL franchise.

"I think, obviously, we'd have to build a wall around the football operations and the franchise itself, which I think they can do effectively," Blank said. "That [gambling] opportunity exists in any market."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell softened on the league's opposition to Las Vegas recently, saying it would be up to owners whether a team could be located in a city that features legalized sports betting.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones spoke positively about the possibility of an NFL team in Las Vegas.

"It has a flair for entertainment, and it has two million people, and they're avid sports fans, the full-time residents," Jones said at a golf tournament this week. "They have a huge visiting contingent that more often than not are fans of some NFL football teams. You add all that together, and it's certainly in a conversation about the future relative to the NFL.

"As you well know, you have to have the right situation. You have to have the right ownership want to, and then a lot of other considerations that have to come into play. For me, I think that certainly the fact that Las Vegas has a gambling aspect to it is far overshadowed by the entertainment value, if you will, family appeal that you have, the convention appeal. So it does not have disfavor with me, in my opinion, relative to being an NFL city."

The league saw one team relocate this offseason when the St. Louis Rams got approval to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season.

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