Viva Las Vegas, Raiders! At the league’s annual spring meeting in Phoenix, all thirty-two NFL owners voted on whether they felt the Raiders should stay put in Oakland, or if they should head out to Vegas. Mark Davis, the Raiders’ owner, needed 24 out of 32 votes to relocate, and he got 31 of 32, Miami being the only team against it. Davis had made it public nearly a year ago that he was already planning on relocating east, and now it’s a reality.
The estimated budget on this project is around $1.9 billion, with the help of $750 million of public funding. The new stadium just by the Strip in Vegas should be ready by 2020. This whole situation really gained momentum once Davis was able to get Bank of America as a replacement investor to loan the $750 million of funding, after a Vegas casino notable backed out of the plans altogether, giving the Raiders a clearer path to the Sin City. The team will also receive $200 million from the league and from general revenue from naming rights and various deals.
The Raiders currently have two 1-year leases on their current stadium, the O.co Coliseum, so they plan on playing for the next two seasons in Oakland and as the Oakland Raiders. Where they’ll play in 2019 is currently unknown. They could share UNLV’s stadium, share with the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium, etc.
This is the Raiders’ second departure from the Bay Area since their move to Los Angeles thirty-five years ago. They spent 45 of 58 seasons in Oakland, obviously producing countless numbers of die-hard fans over that span. The Raiders have some of the most loyal and dedicated fans out there, despite the team’s inability to make the playoffs and their recent hapless injury-related incidents.
This is the league’s third team relocation over the last 15 months: first the Rams moving from St. Louis to Los Angeles, the Chargers going from San Diego to Los Angeles also, and now the Raiders to Vegas. Commissioner Roger Goodell has said countless times that he hates having to relocate teams and how he never wants to see it happen. Okay, but then why do you keep allowing it to happen? Oh yeah, that’s right, because all you care about is money. I totally get that sports are a business; they always have been and they always will be, but don’t try to fool us like that. There’s no need to lie about stuff like this when just about every sports fan gets that revenue is a priority. We all know that you don’t care about the fans, Roger.
One quote from Goodell after the news was announced: "Despite all of these efforts, ours and yours, we have not yet identified a viable solution...It is disappointing to me and our clubs to have come to that conclusion." First off, Oakland’s mayor literally presented an entirely new plan to you just weeks ago that showed how they could fund and ensure that the Raiders stay in the area, Roger. If you really cared about the fans, you could have easily went down that route and found it as a viable solution. Second, the teams voted 31-1 in favor of the relocation. Literally only one team was against it. I don’t think the clubs are too disappointed, though they’ll probably be slapped with relocation fees, too.
One thing that sticks out to me about this whole thing, is the fact that the league made it known for decades that they were incredibly iffy about ever having a team in Las Vegas because of gambling issues, and rightfully so. There are thousands of scenarios that could, and probably would ensue, in which players/executives/referees get involved in gambling. It’s kind of fishy how all of a sudden that isn’t an issue anymore and that that’s totally okay. The things this league will do for money is crazy. At least stick to your morals. One of the few good things about the league was that they were against the whole gambling thing, but of course that’s now out the window.
I will admit, ‘Las Vegas Raiders’ sounds pretty cool, especially paired with the NHL’s new team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights. It’s just sad that this is yet another scenario showing us that money talks. Zero thought for the loyal fans and the history of the franchise - a franchise that is an original AFL team. It shouldn’t be surprising at this point, but it still sucks to see time and time again. If one of my teams ever relocated, I’d be eternally livid.