NFL RAIDERS Steve Guiremand Top News — 27 March 2017
Jackpot! Raiders relocation to Las Vegas is approved

The old idiom that “money talks” was proven again Monday morning when the NFL owners voted to allow relocation of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas during their Annual League Meeting in Phoenix.

The Raiders, who needed 24 of the 32 owners to approve the move, wound up getting 31 votes with Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross casting the only dissenting ballot.

The decision to allow the Raiders to move to Las Vegas comes less than two years after the NFL forced Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo to scrap a Fantasy Football Convention in Vegas because the league was concerned with the image of a player holding an event in a city built around legalized gambling. But that anxiety softened in recent months, especially after the state pledged $750 million toward a new stadium through a hotel tax.

“You know that our goal is to have 32 stable franchises for each of those teams and also the league,” NFL commissioner Robert Goodell said at a press conference at the Arizona Biltmore Resort. “We worked very hard and never want to see relocation of a franchise. That means exhausting our options and doing everything that we possibly can to get a solution in the existing market. As you know there has been a stadium situation in Oakland that we felt needed to be addressed. I think ever our friends in Oakland agreed it needed to be resolved for the long-term issue of the team and frankly for the community. This has been an issue for well over a decade.”

The Raiders’ move had been expected for months in part because the team received about $750 million from Nevada taxpayers – the most ever for an American sports venue — to build a domed stadium that will cost around $1.9 million. Team owner Mark Davis is footing another $500 million, while Bank of America has said it will finance $650 million for the project.

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It’s the second time in 35 years the Raiders have fled Oakland. Davis’ father, the late Al Davis, defiantly moved the team to the Los Angeles Coliseum for 13 seasons in 1982 before heading back to Oakland after receiving stadium improvements there in 1995.

Shortly after Monday’s vote became official, Davis and the Raiders released the following statement on their website:

“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. 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. We would love nothing more than to bring a championship back to the Bay Area.”

With the new Las Vegas stadium not expected to be ready until the 2020 season, the Raiders will play in 2017 in the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, which has become famous in recent years for its sewage issues. The Raiders also have an option to play the 2018 season there and Davis said he would be open to also staying in Oakland for 2019 if an agreement can be worked out.

“First off I would not use the term lame duck,” Davis said. “We’re still the Oakland Raiders, and we are the Raiders, we represent the Raider Nation. There’s going to be some disappointed fans and some angry fans. It’s going to be up to me to talk to them and let them know why, how, and what has happened. And hopefully we can work things out and work together for the future.

“We have two one-year leases, options for Oakland right now,” Davis continued. “I intend, if the fans would like us to stay there, we would love to stay there for that, and possibly talk to them about extending it for maybe ’19 as well, and try to bring a championship back to Oakland.”

Goodell said that the Raiders will continue to called the Oakland Raiders “as long as they’re in Oakland.”

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