On Monday, NFL owners approved the Raiders for a move from Oakland to Las Vegas with a new stadium being built in "Sin City" to house the team.
It's not a totally unexpected development as the Raiders have long flirted with the idea of moving to Las Vegas, but now that the deal has been approved, the team can begin plans for relocation while joining the newly minted Las Vegas Golden Knights of the NHL as the second major professional sports team in the city.
On the surface, the Raiders moving to Las Vegas just makes an already attractive destination even more popular for travelers, but this relocation could also have a potential impact on the UFC.
The UFC is based out of Las Vegas and routinely puts on the biggest cards of the year in the city, but how exactly would the Raiders move affect them? We take a look at the five biggest impacts the Raiders relocation could have on the UFC.
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Positive Effect on Ticket Sales
The Las Vegas Raiders will play games on Sunday and the occasional Thursday, so immediately that doesn't hurt the UFC whatsoever because the mixed martial arts juggernaut usually only promotes shows on Saturday nights. Where the Raiders games could impact the UFC are with potential ticket sales for fans in town to catch an NFL game who decide to watch a fight as well.
Now the UFC rarely struggles to sell out T-Mobile Arena for a fight involving Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey, but for some of the less stellar pay-per-views it's possible that the Raiders having a game the next day could entice fans to drop a few extra dollars to see a fight the night before even if there aren't 'A' list names on the card.
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Traffic and Housing Concerns
NFL teams routinely pull in massive live audiences, especially when first arriving in a new city so when the Raiders show up in Las Vegas there's no doubt the crowds will be at a fevered pitch to attend the games. For anybody who has visited Las Vegas, particularly spending any time on the Strip, the traffic is already a nightmare so imagine adding a professional football team playing a game there every other Sunday.
Current plans have the new stadium being finished in 2020 near the Mandalay Bay resort not too far from the Las Vegas Strip. The location doesn't present a problem for the UFC directly but traffic and fans staying in local hotels could create issues for fight fans clamoring for the same rooms at a low rate. One of the biggest benefits about traveling to Las Vegas for a fight card is, outside of tickets, it can be a relatively inexpensive vacation because flights and hotels aren't typically all that expensive. That could change dramatically with the Raiders in town.
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As previously discussed, the UFC shouldn't run into any serious scheduling issues with the Raiders considering they don't typically run events on the same day. That being said, the UFC could be forced to put a card on a certain date when the Raiders aren't in town just to avoid the possible interference for attention from fans and local media who would be splitting time between the two events. Then again the UFC could also gamble on a show the night before a big Raiders game in hopes that it would draw an even bigger crowd because of the NFL audience in town for the weekend.
It's a calculated risk either way but there's no doubt it's an issue UFC executives will deal with once the Raiders are officially in town.
Negative Impact with Ticket Buyers
Contrary to the argument that the Raiders could increase ticket sales for the UFC, there's also the possibility that it could have a negative impact as well. In 2016, the Raiders average ticket price was just over $71, which is well below some of the other teams in the league, but with a pricey new stadium and the relocation to Las Vegas, it's hard to imagine those numbers won't go up.
Of course, there are going to be dedicated fight fans who will pay to see a UFC card regardless of the Raiders and the same could be said for diehard Raiders fans, but the casual audience makes up a big percentage of tickets for both events. What happens if the UFC and Raiders both have events within the same week or even the same two-day span? Will that force the casual sports fan to decide whether or not to plunk down $100 to see a Raiders game or $100 to see a fight? It could definitely happen.
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Potential Crossover Locally
The UFC has partnered up with numerous professional sports teams when traveling to cities all across the world, but with an NFL and an NHL team both landing in Las Vegas soon it could open up all sorts of opportunities for an expanded relationship between the fight promotion and the local professional sports teams.
That could mean more fighters appearing and doing promotion at Raiders games. It could mean more NFL crossover to appear at fights the night before a big game. For several years, the UFC and boxing have really been the only two shows in town when it came to Las Vegas, but the Raiders moving in could change the sports landscape for everybody involved once the team finally arrives at the new stadium in 2020.