Andrew Johns in eye-opening admission about NRL's Las Vegas plan

The NRL legend's remarks will undoubtedly come as a shock to many.

·3-min read
League great Andrew Johns says plans to take the NRL to Las Vegas would be a waste of time and money. Pic: Getty
League great Andrew Johns says plans to take the NRL to Las Vegas would be a waste of time and money. Pic: Getty

Not so fast, NRL. That's the message from rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns as the game's bosses ramp up plans to kick off the 2024 season in Las Vegas.

ARL Commission chair Peter V'landys is determined to push the proposal to fruition, planning to fly into the world's party central with NRL CEO Andrew Abdo for talks with business and sporting leaders from Las Vegas. Brisbane, South Sydney and Manly are leading the charge to represent the NRL in its first venture on America soil.

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But Johns, whose love of a good time would seemingly make him a strong proponent of the Sin City trip, is not a fan. "Can I just be the fun police here? I think it's a waste of time and money," he told Radio SEN on Friday.

"I think with what's happening in rugby league in regional areas, that money could be well spent. They're trying to get a foothold in America. Do you really think we will grow the game in America? We can spend the money elsewhere."

Others are casting doubts over the validity of the plan on the back of reports the games – if they were to go ahead – were unlikely to be staged at Las Vegas's new Allegiant Stadium, the climate-controlled 65,000-seat home of NFL franchise, the Raiders.

Instead, it's been suggested the NRL would be forced to use the comparatively rundown Sam Boyd Stadium on the outskirts of the city. Officially closed in 2019, the 52-year-old arena is owned by the University of Las Vegas (UNLV) and has been left padlocked for the best part of four years.

The UNLV entered into a non-compete arrangement with Allegiant Stadium, allowing it use of the new stadium and financial compensation in return for not staging sporting or music events at SBS. UNLV officials have spent the last four years undecided whether to sell or demolish the site.

The 40,000-seat Sam Boyd Stadium is basically on death row as a venue. "The cost of maintaining it and firing it up would make no sense, especially if the events you are doing are smaller attended events," Las Vegas Events president, Pat Christenson, said.

Pictured right, ARLC chairman Peter V'landys with NRL CEO Andrew Abdo.
ARLC chairman Peter V'landys (R) is among those pushing for the NRL's foray into Las Vegas. Pic: Getty

One reviewer wrote of SBS: "It is located in perhaps the worst place in the entire Vegas Valley - the southeast corner. It's low elevation compared to the rest of the valley, so that much hotter and it's sometimes swampy and buggy.

"The result is that Boyd Stadium is very isolated and inconvenient to get to."

The NRL risks devaluing its bold venture if unable to secure Allegiant Stadium. V'landys hopes to make a final call on the Las Vegas proposal within a month.

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