Should BYU football try to make the new Raiders stadium in Las Vegas a second home?
Las Vegas has always been a good home for BYU sports with Cougar fans showing up for road games vs. UNLV in both basketball and football, Las Vegas bowl appearances and also the various basketball conference tournaments. With the news that the Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas that could give BYU football an opportunity to make Las Vegas a secondary home.
A new 65,000-seat domed stadium will cost $1.9 billion and be the new home of the Raiders in Sin City. This will replace Sam Boyd Stadium as UNLV will also be a tenant in this new stadium once it opens in 2020.
BYU already has a neutral game scheduled against the Arizona Wildcats in 2021 at Sam Boyd Stadium and who knows what exactly the future will be for that stadium. It is possible that this matchup moves to the Raiders new stadium.
Neutral site games are all the rage in college football with AT&T Stadium hosting multiple games as does the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, and NRG Stadium in Houston. BYU will play their second game vs. LSU in 2017 at NRG Stadium; the Cougar have recently played Oklahoma and Arizona in neutral site games.
Las Vegas is a bit different for BYU fans as there is a large fan base in that city and it is not a long drive from Southern California, so it’d make sense for athletics director Tom Holmoe to work with ESPN to have future games in that new stadium. Perhaps BYU could play neutral site games regularly at the new home of the Raiders.
BYU is starting to get higher profile teams to come to LaVell Edwards Stadium with Wisconsin in 2017, Cal in 2018, Michigan State in 2020, Baylor in 2022 and then Tennessee in 2023. However, moving a game into Las Vegas’ new shiny building could draw even a bigger opponent, and maybe even convince Notre Dame to finally pay up for the games they owe the Cougars.
If the Irish do not fulfill their obligation with BYU they would owe the Cougars a decent size check, and with Notre Dame moving five football games against the ACC it is seemingly more and more likely this matchup in Provo will not happen.
What if there is compromise and the game moves to Las Vegas?
The Irish are obviously a big name in college football and annually plays a neutral site game across the country, and BYU has a similar fan base to Notre Dame, albeit smaller. However, the Cougars have shown to draw very well on the road, and even more so when on the West Coast.
Notre Dame and Syracuse played at MetLife Stadium in 2014 and each school earned $4.7 million to play in one game. That amount is in the neighborhood to what the Cougars earn each year from their home games that air on an ESPN network. Who knows if a BYU vs. Notre Dame would earn that same amount but even if it is half of that amount would be a huge revenue boost for the BYU athletic department.
Playing a game in Las Vegas at this new stadium on some sort of regular basis makes too much sense to not pursue. If BYU could secure six home games and also schedule a neutral site game in Las Vegas then they should play a game there each and every year.