Sport Confidential: NRL will launch 2024 season in Las Vegas, Broncos one of four clubs to play in US
The Brisbane Broncos will kick-off the 2024 season in Las Vegas, spearheading the NRL’s $200 million plan to target US hearts, minds and the lucrative sport gambling market.
The NRL is going to Las Vegas in one of the most significant events in rugby league’s 115-year history.
Sport Confidential can reveal the 2024 NRL season will kick-off in America, with the Brisbane Broncos set to spearhead rugby league’s bold $200 million plan to win over the hearts and minds of US sports fans.
The ARL Commission will ratify a five-year contract with American delegates for NRL premiership matches to be staged in the US until the end of 2028 – starting with a double header next year in Vegas.
News Corp last month revealed plans for the NRL to explore the possibility of staging a double-header in America to capitalise on the nation’s huge broadcasting-and-betting markets.
Now the American Dream is real.
The ARL Commission will give the green light to launching the 2024 Telstra Premiership season in America and only an 11th-hour collapse in talks will prevent four NRL teams playing historic matches in Sin City next March.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys and NRL boss Andrew Abdo returned to Australia a fortnight ago after a fact-finding mission where the high-powered duo met with American delegates.
US stakeholders were highly impressed with the V’landys-Abdo pitch. Now the NRL will proceed with due-diligence, logistical planning and stadium talks to showcase rugby league to 331 million Americans.
A formal announcement on the NRL’s double-header is expected in the next four to eight weeks pending advanced negotiations with American officials.
Abdo declined to comment on Thursday but V’landys told News Corp before his departure to the US that the American market was an untapped goldmine for the NRL.
“This (proposed double header in Vegas) is not a one-off experiment, it is all part of a five-year strategic plan for us to penetrate America,” V’landys said.
“People say we have tried this before in America and failed.
“They have never tried it to the magnitude we are going to try it.
“The potential benefits, financially, would be in the tens of millions.
“And if we do it right, it could be in the hundreds of millions.
“There’s significant revenue that could be generated for rugby league in America ... and we’re going to explore it.”
Las Vegas’ 65,000-capacity Allegiant Stadium is slated to host four NRL teams next season.
It can also be revealed the Broncos are among the frontrunners to embark on the maiden American voyage.
Broncos chief executive Dave Donaghy said recently that Queensland’s flagship club was keen to be part of the historic venture to Vegas.
“We are certainly open to it and hearing more about the concept and what the NRL’s long-term plans for the US may be,” Donaghy said.
“Subject to aligning with our schedule and planning, I’m sure we would have a level of interest to have a discussion about what an NRL double header in Vegas would look like.
“The game is keeping its cards close to its chest for now, but the one thing we want to provide for our players and staff and fans is really great opportunities.
“If you have the opportunity to play an NRL game at a stadium like that in Vegas, it would be negligent of us not to look at and give it serious consideration.”
Under the NRL’s Vegas plan, four clubs will tour America every year for the next five years.
That will ensure all 17 clubs get a slice of the American pie, with powerhouse clubs such as the Broncos, Melbourne, South Sydney and the Roosters to lead the way as Sin City pioneers.
Super coach Wayne Bennett is a massive fan of the NRL’s idea, saying: “I love Vegas. It’s my favourite place in America.
“There’s a huge market over there and it would be great to see NRL games in America.”