The Oakland Raiders might not know where they will be playing football games next season, but first things first here: The 2020 NFL draft will be headed to Las Vegas, the league announced at the owners' meeting on Tuesday.
The league once considered Sin City to be verboden, under the auspice of keeping the integrity of the game intact. But it's now clear that the league's once-antiquated view on gambling has faded.
Las Vegas earned the rights to the event over Kansas City and Cleveland/Canton, both of which tried hard to land the draft.
“The NFL Draft is one of the most-anticipated events of the year and we are excited to take it to Las Vegas,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the Raiders, Las Vegas officials and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to create an unforgettable week-long celebration of football for our fans, the incoming prospects and partners.”
That will act as a welcome of sorts for the Raiders, who are planning on moving to Vegas at the start of the 2020 season and who will serve as co-hosts of the event.
“The Raiders are very excited for Las Vegas and are proud to help host the 2020 NFL Draft,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said. “Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world and will provide a tremendous experience for the NFL and its fans.”
But Vegas hosting the draft also could have bigger long-term effects for the city than just that event, which will take place April 23-25, 2020.
It's quite possible that hosting the draft for three days that spring will be a trial balloon for the league to gauge whether Vegas might be a Super Bowl site one day. The recent NFL trend has been to give a Super Bowl site to cities with new franchises and/or new stadiums.
Los Angeles, for instance, was initially granted the rights to Super Bowl LV in 2021 before it became clear that the new Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park was not going to be ready in time. That gave L.A. — actually Inglewood — Super Bowl LVI, the following year in 2022. The next available Super Bowl, however, isn't until afer the 2024 season, likely in February 2025, so Vegas would have plenty of time to make a bid and perfect things prior to that time.
In the meantime, consider the possibilities of what could happen in such a wild town on draft weekend. Could you even imagine a potential first-round pick getting arrested while carousing around the night before the event kicked off?