The Oakland Raiders will be moving to the Las Vegas Strip after a vote from NFL ownership confirmed the decision on Monday, March 27.
The Raiders earned 31 of 32 votes to have the move approved, the Miami Dolphins being the only “no” vote. The team needed only 24 “yes” votes to approve relocation.
The Raiders plan to remain in Oakland for the next two seasons while the new 65,000-seat stadium is being built, though there is speculation that the team could begin playing in Las Vegas’ Sam Boyd Stadium sooner if the Raider’s choose not to renew their two remaining 1-year leases with Oakland.
“The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA,” Raider owner Mark Davis said in a statement. “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.”
Davis also said that the team will refund anyone, at their request, who bought season tickets before the relocation was announced.
The Raiders decided on the move to Las Vegas after the city of Oakland refused to give public money to build a new stadium to replace the aging Oakland Coliseum. In contrast, the state of Nevada offered $750 million in public money in October 2016 after a special legislative session approved the new funding — a move that was widely criticized at a time when new questions are being raised over the actual economic benefits of public money for large stadium projects. The money will be taken from taxes on Las Vegas tourists, who will pay increased taxes on hotel rooms.
Even so, the approved public money will not cover the full stadium price tag of nearly $2 billion. Originally, Sheldon Adelson, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corps. offered to contribute $650 million to the deal only to rescind that offer in January. Not long after the withdrawal of Adelson’s money, however, Bank of America offered Davis a loan to match what Adelson would’ve contributed.
The move marks the third NFL team relocation in just over a year. The Rams, formerly of St. Louis, and Chargers, formerly of San Diego, have both have relocated to Los Angeles. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has openly opposed the Raider’s move to Las Vegas, citing a lack of stabilization that comes with moving a team.
“You know our goal is to have 32 stable franchises for each team and the league,” Goodell said, according to the Associated Press. “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.”
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf made a last-minute presentation to the Raiders last week, revealing a plan for a $1.3 billion stadium that would be finished by the 2021 season. At the eleventh hour, she then asked the owners to delay the vote so that negotiations could continue. It was a delay that never happened.
“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.”
However, some members of the Las Vegas community are happy about the decision after months of work to bring the team to their city.
“Today will forever change the landscape of Las Vegas and UNLV football,” said Steve Sisolak, chairman of the Clark County Commission to AP. “I couldn’t be more excited for the fans and residents of Clark County as we move forward with the Raiders and the Rebels.”
Davis looks forward to the move, citing his father’s decision to move the team out of Oakland to Los Angeles in 1982 when he owned the Raiders.
“The opportunity to build a world-class stadium in the entertainment capital of the world is a significant step toward achieving that greatness,” Davis said.
Madeline Purdue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @madelinepurdue.