Super Bowl LIV, the Las Vegas Raiders, and the Bright Future for the 49ers
With the Super Bowl fast approaching, the San Francisco 49ers are in an exciting spot looking forward. The team’s berth in the Super Bowl stands in stark contrast to last season’s 4-12 record, but the excitement does not stop there. The Oakland Raiders’ high profile move to Las Vegas is underway and will be in effect at the start of next season. While all of the attention around the relocation revolves around the business interests of the Raiders, the move has interesting implications for the 49ers. Despite the 49ers’ ascension from the second pick in last year’s draft to this season’s NFC Super Bowl representative, they will have even more attention than they did this year, as they are now the sole NFL team in their market. Given that the Bay Area is ranked as the 6th largest media market in the US, the 49ers will have a great opportunity to expand their reach and business interests in the region.
I feel like the effects on the 49ers of the Raiders leaving for Las Vegas will not be immediate, yet short-term opportunities are surely still significant. For example, in the short term, there will be more corporate interest in the 49ers as businesses seek partnerships and sponsorship ventures. 49ers President, Al Guido, explained that the team does not have very many more tickets or suites to sell for the coming season. This means that for those businesses interested in taking their employees or clients to an NFL game, not only is there one less team in town and eight fewer home games, but there will also be a bidding war to acquire those highly-coveted suites. In terms of the long-term impact of this move, it will be interesting to see how kids growing up in the region will affiliate with an NFL team. Sure, some local Raiders fans will instill the silver and black into the blood of their children; however, it seems inevitable that the 49ers will see a spike in the number of fans in the next generation who grow up only seeing the 49ers in their area. More fans equals more merchandise sales, more people willing to buy season tickets, more interest in those prized suites, etc.
Taking a glance around the league, there are few teams with as bright futures, both on and off the field, as the 49ers. Among other teams in major markets (Giants, Jets, Bears, Chargers, Rams), the 49ers are clearly better off and on the field, but are in just as good of a position as any other team in their business ventures. It will be exciting to see how the future of the 49ers shapes out, especially as potential defending Super Bowl champs.