LAS VEGAS (KXNT) – It’s official — the Oakland Raiders will soon become the Las Vegas Raiders.
By a 31-1 vote, owners of the NFL’s 32 organizations voted Monday in Phoenix to approve team owner Mark Davis’ plan to move the iconic team from Oakland to Las Vegas. The Miami Dolphins were the only team to vote against the proposed move. Only 24 owners were needed to approve the deal.
With plans for a $1.9 billion stadium to open in 2020, Davis said the team plans to remain in Oakland at least through 2018.
“We plan to play at the Coliseum in 2017 and 2018, and hope to stay there as the Oakland Raiders until the new stadium opens,” Davis said in a written statement immediately following the vote. “We would love nothing more than to bring a championship back to the Bay Area.”
Davis said he was enthusiastic about the prospects of the move.
“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. I would like to thank Commissioner Goodell, the National Football League and my 31 partners. I would also like to thank Governor Brian Sandoval and the Nevada Legislature for their commitment. Finally, I would like to thank Sheldon Adelson for his vision and leadership, without which this project never would have become a reality.
“The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA. 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.”
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The vote was a foregone conclusion after the league and Raiders were not satisfied with Oakland’s proposals for a new stadium, and Las Vegas stepped up with $750 million in public money. Bank of America also is giving Raiders owner Mark Davis a $650 million loan, further helping convince the owners to allow the third team relocation in just over a year.
The Rams moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles in 2016, and in January the Chargers relocated from San Diego to LA.
Following eight years of fruitless negotiations with Oakland, Davis began opening courting a Las Vegas move last April. Plans appeared to hit a snag in January when casino magnate Sheldon Adelson withdrew his pledge to include $650 million from the plan. Bank of America was brought on board only weeks later to fill that void.
“You know our goal is to have 32 stable franchises for each team and the league,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We work very hard and never want to see the relocation of a franchise. We worked tirelessly over the last nine months or so on a solution. We needed to provide certainties and stability for the Raiders and the league.”
The Raiders, whose relocation fee of approximately $350 million is less than the $650 million the Rams and Chargers paid, likely will play two or three more years in the Bay Area before their $1.7 billion stadium near the Las Vegas Strip is ready.
“I wouldn’t use the term lame duck,” Davis insisted. “We’re still the Raiders and we represent Raider Nation.
“There will be disappointed fans and it’s important for me to talk to them to explain why and how.”
Las Vegas, long taboo to the NFL because of its legalized gambling, also is getting an NHL team this fall, the Golden Knights.
“Today will forever change the landscape of Las Vegas and UNLV football,” said Steve Sisolak, chairman of the Clark County Commission and a former member of a panel appointed by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval to study the stadium tax funding plan. “I couldn’t be more excited for the fans and residents of Clark County as we move forward with the Raiders and the Rebels.”
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and a group trying to keep the team in Oakland, made a last-ditch presentation to the NFL last week. But that letter was “filled with uncertainty,” according to Goodell.
Monday, she asked owners to delay the vote, wanting to give her city a chance to negotiate with a small group of owners to complete a stadium deal at the Coliseum site.
“Never that we know of has the NFL voted to displace a team from its established market when there is a fully financed option before them with all the issues addressed,” Schaaf said in a statement. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t do everything in my power to make the case for Oakland up until the very end.”
Schaaf said the city presented a $1.3 billion plan for a stadium that would be ready by 2021. She said the existing Coliseum would be demolished by 2024, with the Oakland Athletics baseball team either moving to a new stadium at the Coliseum site or somewhere else in the city.
But the presence of the A’s in that sports complex was particularly troubling to the NFL, Goodell said.
“We understand the Raiders’ need for a new stadium,” A’s President Dave Kaval said. “Oakland is an incredible sports town and we would be sorry to see them leave. We commend the city’s and county’s efforts to keep the Raiders in Oakland. The mayor and her team have worked incredibly hard to save the franchise.
“We are focused on, and excited about, our efforts to build a new ballpark in Oakland and look forward to announcing a location this year.”
The Raiders’ move became more certain this month when Bank of America offered the loan. That replaced the same amount the Raiders lost when the league balked at having casino owner Sheldon Adelson involved and he was dropped from the team’s plans.
Davis on Monday thanked Adelson for his “vision and leadership,” saying the entire deal might not have happened without him.
Leaving the Bay Area is not something new with the Raiders, who played in Los Angeles from 1982-94 before heading back to Oakland. Davis was passed over last year in an attempt to move to a stadium in the LA area that would have been jointly financed with the Chargers. Instead, the owners approved the Rams’ relocation and gave the Chargers an option to join them, which they exercised this winter.
Now, it’s off to the desert for the Raiders. Well, in a few years.
“The opportunity to build a world-class stadium in the entertainment capital of the world,” Davis said, “is a significant step toward achieving that greatness.”
The Associated Press also contributed to this report.