The Raiders Are Set To Move To Las Vegas
The Oakland Raiders have received the green light to pack their bags for Las Vegas, reports ESPN.
This comes after a vote was held among NFL owners on Monday morning. The team got 31 votes (out of 32) to get the OK for a relocation; they needed a minimum of 24. According to the L.A. Times, Chargers owner Dean Spanos had voiced his intentions to vote "yes," and Rams owner Stan Kroenke was also believed to be in favor of the relocation.
It's not entirely official yet that the team will be leaving Oakland, though this seems very likely to be the case. The team is expected to move into a brand new facility in Vegas that won't be unveiled until 2020. As such, the team will play the 2017-2018 season in Oakland, and may stay for an additional season until the stadium is completed. Raiders owner Mark Davis told ESPN he plans on keeping the team in Oakland for the next two seasons (it's gonna be totally awk).
The Raiders, who'd played in L.A. from 1982 to 1994 (and who'd won the Super Bowl in 1984), had been eyeing a move to Sin City for much of 2016. Their reason for leaving Oakland was the usual: owners wanted a new stadium to replace the long aging Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, but middle ground was hard to come by with the city.
Late last week, the city of Oakland made a last-ditch effort to keep the team as they submitted a revised financing plan for a $1.3 billion mixed-use stadium project that would have been built on the area surrounding the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. "[We] have something that Vegas can never offer, and that's legacy and loyalty. This team was born in Oakland. This team enjoys some of the most passionate and dedicated fans of any NFL franchise. Those things belong uniquely to Oakland," Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told ESPN. Schaaf added, a bit ominously, that meetings with NFL bigwigs didn't exactly build a ton of confidence around the city's plan. "They certainly have not led me to feel unrealistically optimistic about what the results will be on Monday. But they have been fair, they have been honest and they have been responsive."
It's pretty wild to think that, after two decades in which the NFL had been a non-factor in L.A., three L.A. affiliated teams have been the subject of relocation in the past two years. The Rams returned to the Southland in early 2016 after a long stint in St Louis, and the Chargers (who'd played their first season in L.A. in the now-defunct American Football League) announced their relocation to L.A. earlier this year. No, the Raiders aren't coming back to the City of Angels, but one might presume that their move to Las Vegas (which is geographically closer to L.A., and a big destination spot for Angelenos) may strengthen the team's ties with the Raiders fanbase that has persisted in L.A. ever since the team left the Southland in 1995.
The Raiders had actually mulled a return to L.A. in 2015. The team, in conjunction with the Chargers, had proposed a new stadium to be built in Carson. Those plans, however, fell through when the city of Los Angeles voted in favor of the Inglewood stadium that will be built for the Rams (the Chargers are also moving in).
After their Carson plans went kaput, owners turned their sights to Vegas. As noted at Sports Illustrated, plans for a new Vegas stadium developed at a rapid pace. The biggest hurdle for any relocation is the funding that's required for a new stadium, and the Raiders were afforded a slew of ways to bring in that money. Nevada state officials passed a bill in October that would raise hotel taxes and allocate $750 million of the resulting money to a stadium project. Also, casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson promise to chip in $650 million. He'd later renege, claiming that the Raiders owners had shut him out of talks, but this proved to be only a minor speed bump. Bank of America agreed to step in and pony up the $650 million. Looking at the rest of the breakdown, the Raiders will contribute $550 million, while the city is slated to contribute the aforementioned $750 million.
As noted at the Las Vegas Review Journal, the significance of the Vegas stadium should extend past the NFL. As a cutting-edge, large-capacity venue located in a tourists' hotspot, it's only logical to think that the stadium may bring a number of other big-scale events such as concerts (music festivals?), international soccer matches, and even political conventions. Sports Illustrated obtained renderings of the proposed stadium:
Going on fanfare alone, the Raiders are obviously the most intriguing group in the trifecta of L.A. affiliated teams. They're coming off a winning season (12-4) and have a budding superstar quarterback in their midst (Derek Carr). The Rams and the Chargers...lets just say they're going through some growing pains.