Vegas venture: Novelty or serious?

The 2024 NRL season is finally underway, with the first ever competition match being played out of either Australia or NZ. Vegas was a dream equivalent to putting a man on the moon for sports. V'Landys, Abdo and the NRL found a way to do it. Hype was big, the media went guns blazing, sending everyone and their dog there to join in the historical event. The games were good and all four teams came out reletively unscathed, with Jason Saab the only sort of serious injury but only to a point where he could miss a few weeks. All in all it was set up well and went according to plan.

Was it a success? Well 40,000 to the NRL has to be. Though what i was discussing with my mates was that at this time last week or when the process started if you said to the NRL that you would get 40,000, they would be skipping with joy at that number. But last few days beforehand talk was 38,000 they had sold and expected around 45,000 from walk ins with cheap tickets. Only getting 40,000. Overall, I think the NRL would be thrilled but a little disappointed at the walk up numbers and not getting to 45,000.

Though the question i have is, how sustainable is this idea? The NRL are ambitious now, i am proud of that a die hard fan of the sport, but they also can beat a dead horse trying to be too ambitious. They say they have a 5 year plan for Vegas, opening the season there til 2028. I think it is 95% certain the 2025 season will open in Vegas, but that will be the crucial signal towards the longevity of this Vegas idea. Year 1 was going to be a success unless it was a complete travesty of plans going everywhere. The hype was too big to fail, every single Fox show was there, most of the commentators were there. Channel 9 sent most of their crew over also. Matty Johns did shows from there, NRL 360 doing three shows. It was massive.

2025 i think will show the novelty of the event. Will Fox send as many of their TV personalities over? Doubt it, other than commentators. NRL 360 and Matty Johns needed to be there in 2024, but next year? Not so much. But the biggest key to seeing if it is a novelty is the American crowd. There would have been a lot of Aussies who reside in USA there last night, same with Aussies travelling. Of the few, if any as i do not know, Americans who went simply to see what the fuss is all about, the NRL will get their gauge of the experiment and their goal in 2025 to see if they come back. That is what they want, will they come back and bring others with them.

If in 2025 they get 40,000 again, it could be some Americans came back and brought others with them but some did not. Majority being Aussies who missed this year coming for next year. Yes the crowd might have a lot who weren't there in 2024 but not that much growth. If the NRL get 45,000 next year than that is a progressive step forward for the idea. 

Though even if they do get a bigger crowd in 2025, there is still a chance of the idea getting stale and dropping massively years later. Which is where the NRL might need to do a few things to keep USA dream alive. Firstly, look into different areas other than Vegas. Vegas is great as it has hotels everywhere, it is just an easy spot for teams to camp and get to the game. However, all four clubs trained elsewhere in the lead up anyway. I think the NRL should try and move towards possibly SoFi Stadium in LA for a year. Or be even more ambitious and try Dallas, only issue is Dallas are 2 hours ahead of the west coast in time. I understand not going to venues like say Arizona who have a roof stadium or San Diego as you want a city with a big market. But going to Vegas for 5 years straight just seems too much. Unless you change it up from time to time. 

Second option is take Origin there. It can be done but need to move back to the Sunday Origin here in Australia. You can name the team on Sunday night or worst case Saturday, fly out Monday and prepare for close to 14 days. Yes there are a few issues. First being those players wouldn't be able to back-up the following round, even though i think they should move towards that anyway for player welfare and the time slot will not be favoured by Channel 9 who have the rights, they prefer night time compared to Sunday Afternoon for Origin. But If you can iron out the finer details with clubs Origin work over there. You keep the spectacle there for USA and keep it new and exciting. 

Lastly, not saying this will 100% work or will happen, but bring the nines over to USA. Have all 17 clubs there, make it a big two day event. If you have two days worth of an event that can go for hours on end, you could get some good business. NRL clubs could be against it in the pre-season as it disrupts their preparation, but all the clubs will be in the same boat anyway. You have the space to accommodate all 17 teams, have all the coaches and some stars there to promote the game further, have it weeks out from the season to avoid the jetlag for Round 1. Nines could work in Vegas, but not sure if the NRL are open to it and they may fear the US might not understand the form of the game itself compared to what they just saw yesterday.

Overall, i am sort of glad it is over. It was cool and having been to Vegas twice before it is a great city. But now we can get back to normal and have NRL back in Australia. It still didn't feel like the season started for some odd reason but it is here and it starts again on Thursday night between Newcastle and Canberra. That will make it feel real again.

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  • The 40k in attendance is irrelevant same as crowd figures at home what tge NRL want is TV numbers if the NRL gets more eyes on it innthe US then that's what matters

    • It is very relevant as that is people watching and making money also. Will they go to Allegiant Stadium every year for 10,000 people???

      • If this becomes as relevant as its looking then they will get there 40k every year with only Aussies.....the Yanks aren't stupid (dysfunctional yes) if they think it is worth watching then they will go......what's that saying "build it" and they will come!

        The entertainment value of the actual 2 games yesterday was outstanding! surprised me that they could play to that standard on such a small field.

        • Yeah Americans aren't stupid, in most aspects. But that is why next year is crucial. The spectacle was there yesterday, curiosity was high and unknown was there too.

          2025, curiosity lowers to nearly nothing and the unknown is only in the aspect of the games being played. Making less Americans watch if they are not interested in what they saw yesterday. Next year will show how impressed USA was in the product and how well the NRL did in promoting the game for possible future exposure and expansion.

        • Pretty sure the actual line is "Build it and he will come".

  • Probally didn't help numbers with U2, Madonna and Christina Agula all playing that night too in Vagas

    • Would rather watch an NRL game then any of those performers. 

    • And that will happen. Though there will always be residencies in Vegas, those artists don't just play one night only. You advertise NRL in advance, as do these performers and people want to see both they can plan around it as there will be plenty of chances to catch U2 during their stay. NRL is one night only. 

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