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Intersection of NFR, NFL could lead to some logistical issues

Don’t even think about Allegiant Stadium becoming a potential site for the Wranglers National Finals Rodeo.

The Raiders said long ago that the 65,000-seat venue would not be used for the event, even though its capacity is roughly four times that of the Thomas & Mack Center, which has been sold out every performance for years.

The rodeo occurs during the home stretch of the NFL season, and the logistics scheduling around at least two Sundays in December, when the Raiders would most want home games, makes that idea nearly impossible.

The Runnin’ Rebels take a Thomas & Mack hiatus every year in early December, playing road games or occasional local contests at the Orleans or T-Mobile arenas, early in the college basketball season.

But would the NFL schedule around NFR to avoid traffic problems or visitors scrambling for hotel rooms?

Rodeo leaders have split views.

“It’s only here for one Sunday,” said South Point owner Michael Gaughan, noting that the last performance of NFR is on a Saturday night. “I believe Las Vegas Events has talked to the Raiders, and they want to try to avoid having a game on that Sunday.”

But Jonathan Jossel, CEO of the Plaza, feels there’s enough room for everybody.

“I would hope that there isn’t games over the 10 days just because the city is so busy for those 10 days,” Jossel said. “But that said, this is a town with a lot of hotel rooms and a lot of infrastructure and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was no issue of combining the events and having them at the same time. So, no, I don’t have any issue with that.”

Pat Christenson, president of Las Vegas Events, said he thinks Gaughan is being optimistic if he thinks the NFL would listen to arguments about capacity issues and traffic if the NFL and NFR would ever intersect. He suggested that NFR could potentially move its start time later for the Sunday performance if the Raiders were playing at Allegiant Stadium that day. But if the Raiders were playing the late Sunday home game, which is often rescheduled to that time slot late in the season as a broadcast “flex game” with an irresistible national TV matchup, hello traffic jams.

But could you imagine a regular-season game at Allegiant Stadium during NFR if the opponent were the Cowboys or the Texans?

Perhaps a bigger concern and a problem the Raiders would love to have is January football or a Super Bowl at Allegiant. In order for the Raiders to host a January playoff game, they’d have to finish among the top four teams of the 16 in the American Football Conference. The top two teams draw a bye in the first round, then play home games in the second round of the playoffs on a Saturday or Sunday. The third- and fourth-seeded teams play home games in the first round.

The Super Bowl also has some messy logistics because the NFL essentially takes over the home venue for the month of January leading up to the big game, normally played the first Sunday in February.

The rub, of course, is that January is Las Vegas’ busiest convention month, highlighted by CES, which usually occurs in the first or second week of January.

A similar scenario nearly played itself out at the end of the 2017 season when U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis hosted Super Bowl LII in 2018 and the Minnesota Vikings made a deep playoff run in their bid to become the first NFL team to have a home game for the Super Bowl.

The city’s top events planners have contemplated the issues of hosting a Super Bowl, some even wondering if it would even be worth it to the city to have. It could mean rescheduling or reprogramming some of the conventions that have been loyal to Las Vegas over the years.

Planners always bring up what happened with MAGIC, the big fashion exhibition that now visits Las Vegas twice a year. It had been established in Anaheim, but convention leaders in that town asked MAGIC organizers to find a different venue while they remodeled their building.

MAGIC moved to Las Vegas in 1989 — and liked it so much that it never returned to Anaheim.

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