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SEC, Big Ten deals an ‘inflection point’ for Las Vegas Stadium

Las Vegas Stadium has secured its first major event not tied to anchor tenants, NFL American football franchise the Raiders and college football team the UNLV Rebels, after long-term deals were struck with the Big Ten Conference and Southeastern Conference (SEC) for the staging of the Las Vegas Bowl.

The three-conference agreement, which also encompasses the Pac-12, will run for five years or six games. The SEC will send a team to play in the Las Vegas Bowl in 2020, 2022 and 2024, with a Big Ten outfit taking part in 2021, 2023 and 2025.

The Raiders are due to relocate from Oakland to their new 65,000-seat home in Las Vegas for the 2020 NFL season. The Las Vegas Bowl was considered one of the lowest-tier games when it was first formed in 1992, but it has since risen in status and yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) announcement gives it another lift.

“Approximately three years ago when the vision for this building was laid out, it was really for days like today in mind,” Raiders president Marc Badain said, according to the Las Vegas Sun newspaper.

“The vision was to build a building that would attract and create new events, enhance and augment existing events and create a new venue so that the biggest events in the world could come to the greatest city in the world for this stage.”

The Las Vegas Bowl is currently held at Sam Boyd Stadium and drew 37,146 fans for last year’s game between Fresno State and Arizona State. Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority CEO Steve Hill said the city expects attendance and visitation to nearly double at the new venue, with Las Vegas Stadium able to hold up to 72,000 fans for a bowl game.

The Pac-12 will continue to be an annual part of the Las Vegas Bowl and commissioner Larry Scott said he envisioned Las Vegas Stadium will allow the city to rival Atlanta and Arlington, Texas for neutral-site showpiece fixtures.

“Today is truly an inflection point but I think it’s also the beginning of other great things that are in store for the Raiders and Las Vegas,” Scott said.

The news comes after it was revealed last month that the budget for Las Vegas Stadium has been increased to $1.88bn (£1.48bn/€1.68bn) due to the success of commercial sales for the new venue.

Image: McCarthy