Which clubs are in the running for NRL’s blockbuster Las Vegas plans
The NRL’s early plans to conquer America won’t involve the competition’s four Queensland-based teams. See which clubs are in the running for ‘Las Vegas’ round.
Viva Las Vegas.
Rugby league powerbrokers have hatched a plan to kick off next season with a double-header in Sin City - the latest attempt by the code to conquer one of its final frontiers and cash in on the rivers of gold that run through America.
The American invasion is light on details at the moment because V’landys and Abdo are yet to fully brief the ARL Commission.
That will happen on Wednesday, when they are expected to escalate plans to start the season at Allegiant Stadium, the 65,000-seat roofed venue that is home to the Las Vegas Raiders in the NFL.
The Super Bowl is scheduled to be played in Las Vegas on February 11. A week or two later, the same venue could be home to the launch of the NRL season.
V’landys and Abdo are expected to head to America after Magic Round as they step up their bid to take two games to Las Vegas, potentially alongside a boxing world title bout and a UFC event.
Talks have already been held with the Nine Network, Fox Sports and Fox network in America to get the broadcasters on board for the ultimate sporting weekend.
The plan is for four Sydney clubs – still to be determined which ones – to travel to Las Vegas a week before the game to launch a publicity and marketing blitz like never before via American Fox.
Clubs were clamouring to be involved when contacted by The Daily Telegraph on Monday.
Manly owner Scott Penn has been a longtime fan of the concept.
“That’s awesome – absolutely brilliant,” Penn said.
“We want to be part of it for sure. There’s 350 million Americans who love the gladiatorial nature of NFL. They’ll love the NRL as well.
“It’s going to be an entertainment showcase.”
Storm chair and majority owner Matt Tripp confirmed his club would put up their hand to be involved. Tripp, who made his fortune in the gambling industry, revealed rugby league had the potential to generate millions in revenue by cracking America.
“We would be interested provided it worked for the club, the financial aspects of it stacked up and it didn’t affect the rest of our season,” Tripp said.
“Provided everything lined up, of course we would be interested. The game should be showcased on a big stage in the US and we would love to be part of it.
“I think it is a great idea, particularly if the NRL has a desire to drive revenue from American wagering operators. You would be putting it front and centre over there, letting the country see it.
“If the American public sees it, they will bet on it.”
In Australia it would be billed as the ultimate mates trip away for thousands of Aussie sporting fans. The NRL would do a deal with travel companies to get a share of the profits.
The NRL is refusing to comment on the proposal until the clubs have been informed of the finer details. It is expected Manly, the Sydney Roosters and the Storm would be keen to be involved.
No doubt the South Sydney Rabbitohs would also want to be part of the conversation given their owner - Hollywood superstar Russell Crowe
- has previously spoken in regards to supporting such an event.
We’re really keen to be part of it as part of a long-term strategy in the US,” Souths chief executive Blake Solly said.
Likewise, Brisbane boss Karl Morris said his club would like to be involved.
“Anything that promotes the game, of course the Broncos would be supportive of,” Morris said.
“So we looked forward to hearing more details from the NRL when they are ready to share them.”
Officials will speak to No Limit Boxing chief Matt Rose and other promoters in America regarding a fight on the same weekend, that could possibly even involve Tim Tszyu.
Rose told The Daily Telegraph he loves the ideas.
“We are certainly open to having talks with the NRL,” he said.
“It sounds like a crazy weekend where Australia takes over Vegas. Who knows – maybe we can line up a Tim Tszyu fight at the same time.”
An approach will also be made to UFC boss Dana White about an event to coincide with the rugby league. No doubt it would include our own Alexander Volkanovski.
TV production and logistics costs won’t be a major issue because staff at Fox in America could be part of the broadcast team.
V’landys has connections in America through Lachlan Murdoch and other Fox executives. Recent attempts to play an NRL game in America have fallen over.
This time the NRL is determined to make it happen.