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Atlanta Falcons owner: Data needed to show Vegas can support NFL team

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The Sports Xchange
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank. UPI/David Tulis
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank. UPI/David Tulis | License Photo

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank wants to see more data to make sure Las Vegas can support an NFL team.

Blank wants to study whether the gambling capital of the world is fully committed after Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis increased the ante of where his team will play in the future by pledging $500 million last month toward the building of a proposed $1.4 billion domed stadium in Las Vegas.

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Such a move would require approval from at least 24 of the 32 league owners.

"I think whether or not there are enough people in Las Vegas to support a team is a question," Blank told ESPN.com Friday. "I haven't seen the data on that to support it or not support it. It's certainly a dynamic market. It's a growth market. It's got tremendous tourism, a lot of convention business. So it's certainly a consideration. We'll see what the facts bear.

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"I want to see all the research on whether (Las Vegas) can support a franchise or not. It's no different than any other city we look at."

Davis has stopped short of guaranteeing a move to Las Vegas but made his intentions clear with comments like turning "the Silver State into the silver and black state."

"I think, obviously, we'd have to build a wall around the football operations and the franchise itself, which I think they can do effectively," Blank said. "That (gambling) opportunity exists in any market."

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell seems to be softening his position on gambling conflicts after Davis' recent visits to Sin City.

"All of us have evolved a little bit on gambling," Goodell said recently on whether gambling in Las Vegas is an issue for the possible Raiders relocation.

"To me, where I cross the line is anything that can impact on the integrity of the game. If people think it is something that can influence the outcome of a game, we are absolutely opposed to that."

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Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones doesn't have a problem with moving an NFL team to Vegas.

"It has a flair for entertainment, and it has 2 million people, and they're avid sports fans, the full-time residents," Jones said Wednesday. "They have a huge visiting contingent that more often than not are fans of some NFL football teams. You add all that together, and it's certainly in a conversation about the future relative to the NFL.

"As you well know, you have to have the right situation. You have to have the right ownership want to, and then a lot of other considerations that have to come into play.

"For me, I think that certainly the fact that Las Vegas has a gambling aspect to it is far overshadowed by the entertainment value, if you will, family appeal that you have, the convention appeal. So it does not have disfavor with me, in my opinion, relative to being an NFL city."

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