Casino executives excited about what the Raiders and a $1.8 billion stadium will bring to Las Vegas visitationBuck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports · February 22, 2019 at 12:01 amIt snowed on the Las Vegas Strip Thursday, but the weather’s not getting in the way of construction of the $1.8 billion Las Vegas Stadium, whose steel frame highlights the gray sky. Casino executives are excited about the extra visitors and economic impact generated by the 65,000-seat domed venue’s expected opening in 2020.The stadium project, the future home of the to-be relocated Oakland Raiders of the National Football League, is part of the ongoing transformation of Las Vegas into the sports world. The National Hockey League’s Vegas Golden Knights is currently playing the team’s second season at T-Mobile Arena.Mark Shearer, ‘Las Vegas’ RaidersThe impact of the soon-to-be renamed Las Vegas Raiders was part of a discussion at the UNLV Gaming and Hospitality Education Series focusing on “The Road to 2020: Keeping Pace with Gaming and Vegas Changes.”Mark Shearer, chief revenue officer for the Raiders, said it’s exciting to think how the NFL team will fit into the framework of the city that already attracts more than 42 million visitors a year.The Raiders are working with the state on how to program the stadium, not just for NFL games, but for other events that will draw even more visitors. The stadium expects to host Fortune 500 companies that need meeting space for tens of thousands of people, concerts, neutral-site college football games and college bowl games, and a Super Bowl. There will even be tours of the stadium because not many people get to stand at the 50-yard line, he said.“A million people a year visit the (Shark Reef) Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, and the Bellagio has an art program and people pay to see that,” Shearer said. “There’s no shortage of things to do, and we hope to be part of that.”The biggest draw will be the Raiders. The team will have a Southern Nevada fan base and its fans from California as well, Shearer said. Other teams have already indicated that when they do fan trips, Las Vegas will be at the top of the list, he said.“If you’re a Broncos fan, are you going to Indianapolis or Las Vegas,” Shearer asked.Derek Stevens, CEO of The D Las Vegas and Golden Gate casinos and the developer of Circa Resort & Casino that will open in 2020 in downtown, said the arrival of the Raiders is going to be a huge boost for tourism.Division teams like the Denver, Los Angeles and Kansas City will come every year and other AFC teams will come every three years, Stevens said. NFC teams will come every eight years, and fans are already marking their calendars, he said.“We do a lot of business with the NFC North, which is Minnesota, Detroit, Chicago and Green Bay,” Stevens said. “Detroit is coming here in 2027 and even if there’s a recession, I guarantee there will be 40,000 Detroit Lions fans coming out that weekend. The element of how people anticipate NFL games is really special.”The Raiders and the stadium will change the dynamic of visitor stays in Las Vegas, Stevens said. People will stay through Sunday night on Sunday games and even preseason games played on Thursday and Friday nights will have an impact, he said. That doesn’t account for the regular season when there are games on Thursday, Sunday night and Monday night, he said.“Monday night games will have so much economic impact throughout our city and certainly in the greatest stadium in the NFL, it such a huge impact and completely changes the customer profile and length of stay,” Stevens said. “With a Monday night game, Tuesday at McCarran (International Airport) is going to look like Sunday at McCarran.”Michael Massari, chief sales officer for Caesars Entertainment, said having the Raiders is like a large trade show, except it happens 10 or more times a year.“Certainly come Sunday and NFL games, it changes the pricing packages and offerings we have,” Massari said.Stevens said the city adding sports to the mix of entertainment is a “very critical element” to Las Vegas. The city needs to add reasons for people to fly here, he said.“Having all of these different markets come and create more multiple peak weekends allows us to focus on what the weakest weekends are with promotions,” Stevens said. “By filling all of these spaces on the calendar, it just elevates everything. It’s great for jobs, great for business and great for the overall economy.”Massari said it’s easy to talk about the Raiders and their eight regular season games a year, but it’s more accurate to talk about the stadium as a whole and the incremental demand that comes from that.Shearer said neutral-site college football games and bowl games will bring visitors from outside the market even if they don’t go to the game. When a team like the Chicago Bears comes to Las Vegas, they will not only bring their fan base from Chicago but from California as well, he said.“They’ll come here even if they don’t have tickets to the game,” said Shearer who marveled at the more than 300,000 visitors Las Vegas gets for the Super Bowl to watch the game inside the city’s resorts.Shearer said the stadium will bring events to Las Vegas that would otherwise not come. He cited the band U2 not scheduling Las Vegas on its last concert tour because it didn’t have a big enough venue.“We’re hoping to capitalize on that and make that our niche,” Shearer said. “Could we get the Rolling Stones here or WWE or big-time college programs playing a neutral-site game here? I think the answer is yes.”Shearer said he foresees the stadium being used in the summer for international soccer matches.