Should Vegas be a bubble?

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The NBA successfully did it. As did the NHL, WNBA, Major League Baseball, and even World Team Tennis.

Bubbles are a major reason the Los Angeles Lakers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Seattle Storm, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Empire were crowned champions in their respective leagues the past few months.

So, what say you NFL — ahem, Roger Goodell? Why not consider creating two bubbles for each conference, to ensure the safety of the teams making the playoffs, and protect the integrity and fluidity of your postseason?

“We feel strongly that our protocols are working,” Goodell said during a media conference last week. “I don’t see us doing a bubble in the sense a lot of the media focuses on it. We may look at different ways to reduce the risk of personnel that would limit exposure to others.”

Fact is, even though Goodell believes it’s not necessary to implement a bubble like other professional sports leagues have done, we’re in the midst of a second wave of COVID-19 cases, states are implementing temporary shutdowns, you’ve had numerous schedule changes, and while Arizona is nice this time of year, the San Francisco 49ers relocation to Glendale for three weeks is a little bothersome.

Congratulations in making it this far, but 31 of the 32 teams have been affected by the coronavirus in some manner.

With sponsorships and advertising revenue and TV commitments and everything else affiliated with the one postseason that culminates with the championship game that reverberates around the world, you don’t need disruption.

Two bubbles, one for each conference. Las Vegas for the NFC, and Florida for the AFC. Jacksonville won’t be needing its facility once the season ends. Florida, with plenty of D-I and top-notch high-school facilities, could cater to four teams for two games with ease.

Las Vegas may be a stretch due to facilities, But UNLV has its state-of-the-art football complex. Perennial national powerhouse Bishop Gorman High School has better facilities than a lot of Division I programs, and two fields to practice on. 

An NFL team could very easily get involved with MGM Resorts and build a home-base facility for meetings for a third team, which could practice at Sam Boyd Stadium. And finally, there’s the Raiders’ facility in Henderson.

“I’m receptive to anything,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said during last Friday’s Zoom session with the media. “I just enjoy helping each other out any way we can. We got to work together as a league, as a nation, as a world to try to beat this virus. 

“If we want to continue to play football, we’re going to have to make some concessions and they continue to add up and make our jobs harder but live with it.”

Clark County recently had to withdraw $11.55 million from a debt reserve account to help meet December’s scheduled bond payment for Allegiant Stadium. And since a 0.88% room tax was imposed on hotel rooms in Clark County to fund the $750 million public contribution of the $2 billion stadium, getting the MGM on board would mean a number of properties could create a bubble for teams to stay, and the revenue would certainly help. It wouldn’t interfere with the New Year’s crowd, as the playoffs are set to begin Jan. 9.

Flying in? No problem, as Signature Flight Support private air terminal is up the street from Mandalay Bay and Delano — both MGM properties —  as well as The Four Seasons, which is at Mandalay Bay..

Arguing against Las Vegas in favor of, say, Texas and Florida might make sense. But if there is a town that would bend over backward to pull it off, it’s Las Vegas. What doesn’t make sense is squashing the notion a league that has been infiltrated with COVID-19 issues all season doesn’t need a bubble.

“We got to find ways to help our brothers out,” Gruden said. “If they need help, I’m willing to do anything necessary to help ­anybody out.”

About the Author

W.G. Ramirez

W.G. Ramirez is a 32-year veteran covering sports in Southern Nevada, and resident of 46 years. He is a freelance reporter in Las Vegas and the Southern Nevada correspondent for The Associated Press.

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