Connecting state and local government leaders

A Big Obstacle in Making the Future NFL Stadium Work in Las Vegas

Matt Gutierrez carries a raiders flag by a sign welcoming visitors to Las Vegas.

Matt Gutierrez carries a raiders flag by a sign welcoming visitors to Las Vegas. John Locher / AP File Photo

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Can “soft and spoiled” Raiders fans in Nevada change their expectations about parking?

While the NFL’s decision to relocate the Oakland Raiders from the Bay Area to a yet-to-be-built taxpayer subsidized $1.9 billion stadium in Las Vegas is a done deal, there are still plenty of sore feelings about the upcoming move.

Take for instance, actor and Oakland fan Tom Hanks, who this week expressed his displeasure with the Las Vegas decision and the taxpayer-subsidized “air-conditioned dome in the desert” and announced he will boycott the NFL for two years.

But the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, created to manage the stadium project, is moving forward on planning and building the Raiders future home.

The new stadium site in Paradise, near McCarran International Airport and southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, has to be ready in time for the 2020 season.

While some preliminary designs for the stadium were released when NFL made the Las Vegas move officially in March, there’s a lot more involved for making the stadium project a success to stand out in a city populated with entertainment venues.

Stadium projects like the one in Las Vegas usually spark vibrant debates over the amount of parking that should be on-site and how sports fans should access the venue. But the new Raiders stadium faces some only-in-Vegas dynamics when it comes to fans reaching the site.

On Wednesday, during a local panel discussion that focused on the stadium project moderated by Bank of Nevada President John Guedry, John Saccenti, executive director of the Las Vegas Bowl, observed something about the transportation habits of Las Vegas residents that will have to be taken into consideration when it comes to the meeting the parking challenge.

As The Nevada Independent reported:

“I’m going to preface this by saying I’m included in this next comment: We are soft and spoiled in this town. We don’t like traffic. We don’t like to pay for parking. We like valet right up in front … But we do have to create a little bit of a culture change if we’re going to have these big-time events in these big-time buildings. We’re not a community that’s used to arriving to events early. We like to pull up. We like to get to there by the last minute, and we like to get the hell out.

That type of mobility ethos in Las Vegas, ingrained as it may be, doesn’t necessarily mix well with most NFL stadium cultures. As Saccenti said: “You may have to walk half a mile to the stadium. It’s really not the end of the world, but we’re not used to doing that.”

About 6,200 parking spaces are planned for the site, an amount that’s less than the NFL average, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

The city of Las Vegas and the entertainment venues that have thrived there are no stranger to dealing with large crowds, but a pro-football crowd will be something new. Stay tuned ...

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.

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