Las Vegas gets lucky with Raiders

Louis LaVenture,

After eight years of rumors and stalled negotiations between the city and the team it became official on Monday; the Oakland Raiders will move to Las Vegas.

At the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix early Monday morning the 32 franchise leaders approved a conditional relocation for the Oakland franchise with a 31-1 vote in favor of the move. Only 24 yes votes were needed to secure relocation.

In a statement released after the vote, Raiders owner Mark Davis said; “My father always said, ‘the greatness of the Raiders is in its future,’ and the opportunity to build a world-class stadium in the entertainment capital of the world is a significant step toward achieving that greatness.”

The lone “no” vote came from Miami Dolphins owner and real estate mogul Stephen Ross who explained his decision in a statement after the meeting.

“My position today was that we as owners and as a League owe it to fans to do everything we can to stay in the communities that have supported us until all options have been exhausted,” said Ross. Ross is a billionaire real estate developer who said he thought the team shouldn’t move to a smaller market than they were coming from.

The Raiders are the second NFL franchise to move in two and a half months. The San Diego Chargers — led by owner Dean Spanos — moved to Los Angeles on Jan. 12 and less than 15 months ago on Jan. 13, NFL owners approved the Rams’ move from St. Louis to Los Angeles.

According to NFL and team statements, the Rams and Chargers will share a stadium in Inglewood, which is scheduled to open in 2019.

“The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA,” Davis said in a statement following the vote. “We know that some fans will be disappointed and even angry, but we hope that they do not direct that frustration to the players, coaches and staff.”

Several local groups, organizations and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf tried to persuade the franchise to stay in Oakland. At a gathering at Oakland City Hall on Saturday Schaaf said, “There is a story out there, and it is a myth that we are here to dispel. And it goes something like this: People are saying that Oakland’s efforts to build a new stadium have been stalled for years. Nothing has changed, and therefore the Raiders have no choice but to leave. We are calling bulls–t on that.”

In response to Schaaf, the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement to the mayor and the city that said this stadium deal has been in the works for eight years and there are no current viable options from Oakland.

Fans and groups including Stay in Oakland, an organization dedicated to keeping the franchise in the city came out in the hundreds, possibly thousands, on Saturday at the meeting and at the stadium.

According to Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, the new stadium will be a domed 65,000-seat facility that will cost $1.9 billion. According to Davis, the Raiders committed $500 million toward the new stadium while $750 million will come from a hotel tax passed by the Nevada Legislature in October. Davis informed the NFL earlier this month that Bank of America will help cover the remaining funds after billionaire Sheldon Adelson withdrew his $650 million pledge in January.

Sandoval told reporters last month the facility will be shared with the University of Nevada Las Vegas and will not open until 2020. Raiders owner Mark Davis told ESPN he plans on staying in Oakland the next two seasons since the team has a pair of one-year options at the Oakland Coliseum.

This will be the third move for the Raiders in franchise history after they moved to Los Angeles in 1982 and then back to Oakland in 1995.