Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis is ready to move his NFL franchise to Las Vegas, but before that can happen, the team of course needs somewhere to play. With the typical red tape getting in the way, it now appears unlikely that the $1.9 billion domed stadium near the Strip will be ready in time for kickoff of the 2020 season.
The Raiders are now in talks with Oakland officials to extend their lease agreement through the 2020 season, and potentially even through 2021.
Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority Executive Director Scott McKibben told the San Francisco Chronicle, “For sure we are talking about a one-year extension, and there’s a real likelihood we could be talking about two years.”
Under its current agreement, which expires at the conclusion of the 2019 NFL season, the Raiders pay the city-owned stadium $3.5 million per year, and also split parking and concession revenues. The city covers game-day expenses including security.
The Raiders were an early preseason favorite for the Super Bowl at Nevada sportsbooks. The Westgate had Oakland at 8-1 to win the title before week one. Despite a thrashing Sunday night coming at the hands of the Washington Redskins, the 2-1 Raiders are at the same odds to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Bureaucracy at Play
Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that it’s understandable that the Oakland Raiders would want to make sure they have a home come 2020. He explained that the 65,000-seat stadium located just west of I-15 between Hacienda Avenue and Russell Road is on “such a tight timeline.”
To make the ambitious goal, nearly everything will need to go as planned, from construction to the weather. But already, things outside the Raiders’ control is delaying progress.
Stadium developers still need to finalize a transportation and parking plan, as well as a “community benefits plan” that will dictate percentage requirements for the number of small businesses and minority-owned entities hired at the jobsite. Finally, the stadium must complete a joint-use deal with UNLV, which plans to play its college football games in the NFL venue.
Regardless of the ongoing negotiating, Sisolak said the county is still “on target to get it done by 2020.”
Though many Oakland officials angered at Davis for planning to skip town, the city should have the upper hand at the lease extension negotiating table.
Oakland Council President Larry Reid declared, “The NFL and the Raiders totally disrespected the city of Oakland and Raiders fans. If the Raiders are gone, they’re gone. I don’t want anything to do with them.”
However, Reid went on to explain that the Coliseum Authority is in a great spot to raise the rent for 2020, and perhaps strike other favorable deals.
Reid isn’t the only one who isn’t real high on the NFL. After a week of on-field demonstrations that saw players, coaches, and even owners kneel during the national anthem, many fans are finding other ways to spend their Sundays.
Ratings were down in 2016, something the NFL largely credited to the presidential election. But they’re also down this year through the first two weeks, and while data is early for week three, all signs seem to point to continued struggles.
Early games on CBS were up, but afternoon games on FOX were down. NBC’s Sunday Night Football then plummeted 10 percent. The week might have been saved by ESPN’s Monday Night Football, which was up big compared to last year when it aired during a live presidential debate.