Heading into year three of independence, BYU football continues to be a desired commodity. As the program's profile grows nationally, a regional developer has been using BYU's draw as part of a pitch for a new multi-purpose stadium in Las Vegas.
Majestic Realty is in pursuit of developing the stadium not only as a new home for UNLV football, but as a venue for the Las Vegas Bowl, NCAA Tournament games, the Pac 12 and MWC football championship games, to bid for the NCAA football championship game -- and as a neutral site venue for BYU football.
While the initial proposals were eventually scrapped and declined by UNLV and the Nevada Board of Education, Majestic has simplified its proposal, cutting out middle-man partners (increasing the state's revenue share) and decreasing the construction's monetary burden to the state. While the financials and stadium location have changed, the targets for the stadium's use have not.
While BYU could use a shiny new Las Vegas stadium -- which clearly wants BYU to play there -- as a launching pad to secure a slew of home-home-neutral series from programs around the country, what about the
Holy War Deseret Duel The Rivalry?
BYU and Utah are having trouble making the rivalry work as a yearly tradition in the new world of conference realignment. Some have suggested dropping it. Some on the red side of the aisle think Utah should demand a 2-for-1. Some Utah officials, Kyle Whittingham included, have talked ad nauseam about the need for the Utes to schedule more home games than road affairs.
But what if BYU and Utah consistently scheduled home-home-neutral over three years as a regular arrangement?
The appeal is great on many levels.
First, a neutral site game is played free of TV contracts from either party or their respective conferences. Messrs. Hill and Holmoe could broker the game every third year with the TV partner of their choice. Does ESPN say no?
Second, neutral site games traditionally take the place of road games, not home contests. Utah could keep its pursuit of the home-road imbalance -- or if that becomes fruitless, a lucrative neutral-site game every third year could help come close. BYU, too, could keep six home games and add this duel in the desert. Does either school say no to the payday or the exposure of such an event?
Third, fans will travel and love it. BYU fans invaded Vegas every December for years, and Utah fans would no doubt love a reason to regain a regular trip to Sin City.
Do the fans say no, especially if such an arrangement is the most palatable way for both schools to guarantee the game as a yearly occurrence?
Fourth, Nevada and Majestic, pitched to be 50/50 partners, would profit. They certainly wouldn't say no. The game would have no problem selling out, and it would serve as a sort of secondary bowl game for the city and venue.
And maybe -- just maybe -- such a game would be good enough for Larry Scott to give it a post-September exception and let it be played in November, at least the once every three years it is in Vegas. Players, coaches, and fans would all like a November reprieve in warmer weather.
In Texas-Oklahoma style, tickets would be allotted 50/50 and sectioned down the middle of the stadium -- blue on one side, crimson on the other. Beautiful, no?
A lot of dreams considering the stadium is yet to be approved. If it is approved, though, the timing should not be a problem for BYU and Utah to help christen the venue. 2014-15 are already off the table, and 2016 is slated for Salt Lake City. A new three-year series with Utah could start with a 2017 date in Vegas -- or if not ready, could cap off a three-year set in 2019.
Independence brings with it an amazing degree of autonomy, and for the first time ever the two rivals are not in the same conference, making such a neutral-site showdown possible. BYU could blaze a unique trail with Utah here -- combining its long-held tradition of on-campus rivalry games, but adding in the huge-event aura traditional to rivalries like Texas-Oklahoma and Florida-Georgia.