NFL owners have approved Mark Davis’ wishes to move his Raiders franchise from Oakland, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada.
It’s a monumental development for the storied California team, and represents a colossal shift in the general views of Las Vegas and the city’s legalized sports betting markets.
For decades, the NFL has opposed placing a franchise in Vegas on concerns that gambling could jeopardize the integrity of the games. That’s apparently an apprehension no longer warranted.
Thanks to Nevada’s $750 million commitment and financing from Bank of America, Davis has $1.9 billion secured to build a 65,000-seat domed stadium just steps from the Strip. The proposal was enough to win over the league’s owners, as 31 of 32 voted in favor of the blueprint.
The league’s bosses were in Phoenix for an owners meeting, and Miami Dolphins billionaire Stephen Ross was the lone “nay” vote.
Davis said following the vote, “The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA. 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 Las Vegas Raiders won’t likely begin playing their home games in Sin City until the start of the 2019 NFL season. The team is coming off its first playoff appearance in 14 years, and the Westgate SuperBook has Oakland at 20-1 to win Super Bowl 52.
Prior to the meeting, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf sent a letter to all the owners asking them to delay their Vegas vote.
In what she called “one of the most critical decisions in the National Football League’s history,” the mayor pleaded her case in keeping the Raiders in California. “Oakland has a more fully financed, shovel-ready project in the larger, more valuable and proven Bay Area market than Las Vegas,” the Democratic politician explained.
Oakland Alameda Coliseum, the current home of the Raiders, is in desperate need of repair, if not a total demolition and construction of an entire new facility. Oakland was hesitant in offering up public funds, but a private investment group led by retired star Ronnie Lott recently emerged to build a $1.3 billion facility. It was apparently too late.
“Individually, they’re great people,” Davis said of Oakland officials last year. “But you get two or more of them in a room, total dysfunction.”
Goodell Loses, Too
The Raiders move is the latest blunder on Goodell’s track record. The NFL commissioner was strongly opposed to the team relocating to Las Vegas, and maintained his position that the widespread gambling across the city didn’t make the destination attractive for the league.
Nearly all of the people he works for, aka the owners, disagreed. Jerry Jones, one of the most powerful owners in the league, is rumored to have stepped in to convince Bank of America to bankroll the outstanding $1.15 billion funding gap after Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson abandoned the project in December.
Goodell admitted he erred in suspending former running back Ray Rice for just two games in 2014 following a highly publicized third-degree aggravated assault of his then-girlfriend. Two years later, he suspended quarterback Tom Brady for four games for allegedly tampering with the air pressure of game balls.
Goodell is thought to be unpopular with fans and some in the media, and today’s vote shows there’s also plenty of opposition among the league’s owners.