NFL owners approve Raiders move to Vegas

The Oakland Raiders are heading to the desert after the NFL owners voted to let them move.

Beck Diefenbach—X02805
FILE PHOTO: Raiders' owner Mark Davis speaks during a news conference at the Raiders' training facility in Oakland

PHOENIX — The Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas.NFL team owners voted 31-1 to approve the Raiders’ application to relocate to Las Vegas during the annual league meetings in Phoenix on Monday. The Miami Dolphins were reportedly the lone opposing team to vote against the move.”We believe we, and the Raiders, have worked earnestly for over a decade to find a viable option in Oakland,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We believe we went the extra mile to find that solution in Oakland.”I wanted to thank (Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf) for her effort to find a viable solution. … We’re particularly disappointed for the fans. We worked as tirelessly and as hard as we could to try to find that solution. We just couldn’t get that done.”The one owner that cast a no vote, Stephen Ross of the Dolphins, clearly doesn’t believe that was the case. In a statement, Ross said, “My position today was that we as owners and as a League owe it to the fans to do everything we can to stay in the communities that have supported us until all options have been exhausted.”Goodell wrote a letter to Schaaf late Friday evening that expressed disappointment in the city’s latest stadium finance proposal, which were never delivered to the league, but instead announced publicly. That didn’t to go over well with the league, which viewed it as political cover.Schaaf released a statement Monday, saying, “I am disappointed that the Raiders and the NFL chose Las Vegas over Oakland when we had a fully-financed, shovel-ready stadium project that would have kept the Raiders in Oakland where they were born and raised.”I am proud that we stood firm in refusing to use public money to subsidize stadium construction and that we did not capitulate to their unreasonable and unnecessary demand that we choose between our football and baseball franchises.”As a lifelong Oaklander, my heart aches today for the Raider Nation. These are the most committed and passionate fans any city or team could hope to have. They deserved better.”Raiders owner Mark Davis filed an application with the league in January to move the team to Las Vegas in time for the 2020 season. He needed at least 24 of 32 votes by the owners.The Raiders won’t immediately move to Las Vegas because construction of their planned $1.7 billion domed stadium, near the Strip, isn’t expected to be completed until 2020. The stadium would be financed with $750 million in public funding and a $450 million construction loan from Bank of America, with the Raiders and the NFL adding a combined $500 million.”The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA,” Davis said Monday. “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.”The Raiders will play this season at the Oakland Coliseum and have a contract option to play there again in 2018, but would need to play the 2019 season in a temporary facility unless a new agreement can be reached in Oakland.The Raiders have been in Oakland in 45 of the franchise’s 58 seasons, including the last 22. TheRaiders moved to Los Angeles for the 1982 season and played there 13 years before the late Al Davis moved the team back to Oakland in 1995.”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,” Davis said. “I would like to thank commissioner Roger 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 Vegas deal appeared dead a few months ago when Adelson and then Goldman Sachs could not reach agreement with the Raiders on the extra $450 million needed for the project. That figure has been frequently reported as $650 million as has the stadium cost of $1.9 billion. However, the Sports Business Journal reported the lower figures.However, Davis secured the financing from Bank of America to keep the project moving forward and winning the support of league ownership.Bob McNair, owner of the Houston Texans and chair of the league’s finance and stadium committees, said, “This is a very sound plan. It was looked at very carefully and we believe it will lead to a more stable Raiders franchise.”As for Oakland’s efforts to keep the team, McNair said, “For two years we have tried to find a solution, an answer in Oakland. But we weren’t able to.”It was 440 days ago on Jan. 12, 2016, that the league voted to move the Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles, rejecting the 5-1 recommendation of the league’s Los Angeles Opportunities Committee to have the Raiders and Chargers play in a Carson, Calif., stadium. The Chargers were granted the first option to be a second team to play in the stadium Rams owner Stan Kroenke is building in Inglewood. The Chargers exercised that option two months ago.Monday, Davis was asked when he seriously started looking at other options after the 2016 move failed. He said the only effort to keep the team was “five pieces of paper. They were waiting for us to lose the vote so they would have the leverage.”The Raiders reached an agreement for two one-year options to continue playing in Oakland, but shortly after the vote, Davis said he received a call from a county supervisor informing him the rent on the lease just negotiated would be raised.Said Davis, “I agreed to pay it, but at that point I knew I had to start looking elsewhere.”That looking ended up being Las Vegas.