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Louie Christensen: Let's make the Tucson Raiders a reality

Louie Christensen: Let's make the Tucson Raiders a reality

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Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr talks with Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden during the second half against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. (Hector Amezcua/Sacramento Bee/TNS)

Dear City of Tucson,

Please fight with all your might to get the Raiders to move here for a year.

First off, let me clarify that I am not a Raiders fan. I would simply love to see Tucson put this one in the win column.

As detailed in the Jan. 9 article “Attorney to Raiders: Try Tucson for a year,” Tucson attorney Ali Farhang — with the blessing of officials from the University of Arizona, the Arizona Cardinals and Gov. Doug Ducey — spoke with Oakland Raider leadership about the team moving to Tucson.

Right now, the Raiders are stuck between an expired lease in Oakland and their new 2020 home in Las Vegas.

Sure the move is temporary, but that actually makes the deal more appealing. Think about it — the 2019 NFL season starts in just a few months. So even if you wanted to build any major taxpayer-funded projects, you wouldn’t have the time to get them going; and since the Raiders would only be in town for a year, they wouldn’t expect you to in the first place.

That means you get to fill the coffers with sales tax revenue and hotel tax surcharges throughout the season without being expected to pony up serious spending in the meantime. What would that do for the health of your coming 2019–2020 budget?

Public funds aside, imagine what a temporary NFL market would do for Tucson’s business community. Since there is a set end date for the relocation, we avoid the risk of overdeveloping around a team that may leave us if their relationship with the city/state sours. If the Raiders move here for a season, obviously some entrepreneurs will open shop to “get while the gettin’s good,” but they will do so knowing the impermanence of the move.

Ultimately, it’s the existing businesses that will see the economic boost from gaining an NFL market for a season. Think of the wishlist items local businesses could afford with an above-average year.

A single NFL season sounds like more trouble than it’s worth, but this level of increased national exposure for Tucson would be otherwise unachievable.

There aren’t enough funds in the Visit Tucson budget to buy national commercial airtime on ESPN, FOX, NBC, CBS or the NFL Network, but you better believe those play-by-play announcers will be talking about the heavenly weather, delicious restaurants and stunning beauty of Tucson while clips of the Catalina Mountains and Congress Street play.

You think Bill Walton does a good job promoting Tucson, imagine what personalities like Michel Irvin, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Michael Strahan talking about Tucson would do for our national name recognition.

While bringing the Raiders fan base to Tucson would be a big boost (seeing their market effectively includes the Bay area they are leaving and the Vegas market they are yet to settle into), we cannot forget we would also stand to gain from the visiting team’s fans as well.

The Raiders are scheduled to play the Chiefs, Broncos, Titans, Chargers, Jaguars, Bengals, Bears and Lions at home in 2019. That means Tucson would be able to get in front of those eight additional markets, some of which have residents who have already shown they thoroughly enjoy the glory of our mild November and December weather.

Lastly, in 2018 Tucson landed on nearly a dozen “must-visit” destination pieces published by outlets such as TripAdvisor, the Washington Post, the New York Times and Expedia.

Can you think of a better way to capitalize on that attention than by giving countless football fans across the many cities where they live a serious excuse to visit Tucson?

I know there are a lot of other markets and stadiums offering themselves to the Raiders, but all of these things considered, I hope you will take this opportunity seriously.

Louie Christensen is a lifelong Tucsonan, living and working in the city he loves.

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