With a new stadium likely on the horizon, UNLV is plotting the course toward a more robust football program, according to coach Tony Sanchez.
By and large, the stadium talks in Las Vegas have been centered around the Oakland Raiders, who are likely to seek the NFL’s permission to relocate now that the funding for the facility is in place. However, the process has played out in a way that reflects some bolder visions from UNLV.
While the university will share the facility with the Raiders, the state’s approval of the project is written in a way that still allows UNLV to pursue a new stadium using sales tax revenue in the event that the Raiders back out of the plan. That was a major win for UNLV, which is trying to move into a modern and accessible facility than Sam Boyd Stadium (shown above).
The school is also committing to plans for a state-of-the-art, on-campus practice facility known as the Fertitta Football Complex. Sanchez believes that over time, UNLV’s efforts will result in a higher profile–and potentially a conference change–allowing the football program to become a major draw at the new stadium. More from the Las Vegas Sun:
And guess what? He’s not finished. Remember, Sanchez thinks out of the box. He’s more than a dreamer. He’s a visionary who knows how to execute.
The stadium, Raiders or not, is the next phase in his plan to make the program relevant.
“It has always been the Raiders will come and they will fill (the stadium) up, and UNLV will have a cool place to play and put our 25,000 (fans),” Sanchez said. “That is not the case. We get into a Power 5 conference and on Saturdays, it’s UCLA against UNLV and that is happening every year. It’s UNLV versus a Baylor or something like that. It’s 60,000. We are going to get our butt going and win … All of a sudden you might have a sold-out Raider game on a (Sunday) and a sold-out UNLV game the next week on a Saturday.”
UNLV was quickly rejected this summer when attempting to be part of the Big 12 Conference’s expansion. You could easily argue that of the nearly 20 teams who expressed interest, UNLV had the least working for it. The feedback from the Big 12 reaffirmed the obvious that UNLV’s infrastructure, among other downfalls, was an eyesore.
Just not for long.
The Big 12 has confirmed that it will pass on expansion for now. Obviously that squelches any talks of switching to that conference in the near future, but UNLV is certainly leveraging facility plans into bigger visions.
Image used under Creative Commons license via flickr.com.
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