The Oakland Raiders could become the Las Vegas Raiders in the not too distant future if the NFL agrees to let them move, and the team has just officially filed the paperwork seeking that permission, as NFL.com reports. This is just a first step in a relocation process, and it will require yes votes from three quarters of all NFL team owners, or 24 votes.
Vegas has been in the Raiders' sights for a few years now, and they've been publicly itching to move either there or somewhere besides Oakland with a proposed move to Los Angeles involving a now abandoned idea to share a new stadium in the city of Carson, south of LA, with the San Diego Chargers. (The Chargers just completed their move out of San Diego to that stadium, which is called StubHub Center, and they're now the Los Angeles Chargers, joining the Rams in a city that just a few years ago had zero NFL teams.) Three years ago a San Antonio move was floated, and as of a year ago, the Raiders also shot down a proposal that they share Levi's Stadium with the 49ers.
Oakland has in recent years refused any subsidy rewards to the Raiders to keep them in town, a move that's been praised by sports economists, and Oakland has for years debated various plans for new baseball and football stadiums as the 50+-year-old Coliseum has been slowly crumbling and they made the A's pay for their own stadium improvements when that team cut a deal three years ago to stay in town through 2024. There was this ambitious 2014 master plan for "Coliseum City" that included the construction of three new sports arenas, for baseball, football, and basketball, but now that the Warriors are fully committed to a San Francisco move that latter arena wouldn't be necessary. And as recently as last summer there was still discussion of converting a piece of Port of Oakland property near Jack London Square into a new stadium for the A's (but not the Raiders), an idea that's been discussed for many years without moving forward.
NFL.com says that Oakland has so far "not come up with a stadium proposal that league or independent sources believe is credible," and the Raiders organization is beyond impatient.
Meanwhile Las Vegas has rolled out the red carpet with $750 million in public funding for a Raiders stadium project and multiple potential development sites, as the Architect's Newspaper reports, and the Raiders took their glistening, $1.9 billion stadium design from Carson designed by the same firm that's doing Oracle Arena, Manica Architecture added a sun-shielding dome to it and plopped it into the Nevada desert. Fox 31 Denver reports that the project could take up to three years to build if and when it gets approved, so it seems unlikely that the Raiders would get to leave Oakland any sooner than the 2021 season.
The team has reportedly gotten financing commitments for the stadium projects from Goldman Sachs, as well as some pledge of help from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, though he seems to be pushing for partial ownership of the team according to Pro Football Talk.
A look at the proposed stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders. pic.twitter.com/DNokQvLKPy— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) January 14, 2017
Seeking potential leverage in the Vegas deal, Raiders owner Mark Davis met in December with Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, who's serving as spokesman for an investment group funded by Milwaukee Bucks owner Wesley Edens called the Fortress and Lott Group, which is trying to negotiate a deal to keep the Raiders in Oakland. Via PR guy Sam Singer, the Fortress and Lott Group sent out a statement on the Raiders Vegas paperwork saying that this was "expected," and "The Fortress and Lott group remains diligently focused on providing a plan and solution to the Raiders to remain in Oakland." To that end they "are working on completing the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with the City of Oakland and County of Alameda... which should be completed in the coming weeks... [and] We are in this game and we are playing to win."
Some football fans are taking pleasure in Oakland's loss, now that they're potentially down two sports teams.
But Raider Nation is sure to be pissed overall.
Previously: The Raiders Really, Really Want To Leave Oakland