PHOENIX (KRON) — The NFL owners have voted on Monday to let the Oakland Raiders move to Las Vegas.
The relocation was approved by a 31-1 vote during the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix.
The Raiders’ new stadium in Las Vegas isn’t expected to be ready until 2020 and their lease at the Oakland Coliseum calls for them to keep playing in Oakland for at least the next two years.
Most NFL insiders believed that Raiders owner Mark Davis would get the 24 votes necessary to move the team–and he did.
The vote is a win for owner Mark Davis, who had been pushing for a move to Las Vegas. He’s even already filed a trademark for the phrase “Las Vegas Raiders.”
Davis said in a statement, “My father (Raiders founder Al Davis) 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 (NFL) Commissioner (Roger) Goodell, the National Football League and my 31 partners. I would also like to thank (Nevada) Governor Brian Sandoval and the Nevada Legislature for their commitment.”
In January, Raiders owner Mark Davis filed an application to move the team to Las Vegas in time for the 2020 season.
The City of Oakland along with Mayor Libby Schaaf was hoping to keep the team in Oakland. But with city officials struggling to compete with the deals in place with Vegas politicians, the chances of keeping the Silver and Black were slim.
The vote comes as a foregone conclusion after the league and Raiders were not satisfied with Oakland’s proposals for a new stadium, and Las Vegas stepped up with $750 million in public money.
The Raiders have found financing for the proposed $1.9 billion stadium in Las Vegas through Bank of America. This comes after billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and Goldman Sachs withdrew from the deal.
In the Adelson deal, Nevada would have raised $750 million from a hotel tax to fund the stadium with billionaire casino mogul Adelson contributing $650 million and the Raiders and NFL kicking in $500 million.
But the Bank of America deal ultimately prevailed.
For years, the Raiders have said they needed a new stadium; their current home opened in 1966 and is the only facility shared by a baseball and football franchise. Under Davis’ father, Hall of Fame owner Al Davis, the Raiders moved from Oakland to Los Angeles in 1982, then returned to the East Bay in 1995.
With the Raiders being allowed to move to Nevada, it would be the third relocation approval in one year for the NFL. The Rams and Chargers were given approval for a Los Angeles stadium last year.
On Friday, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf finally made public the plans for a new Raiders and A’s stadium on the current site of the Oakland Coliseum and Arena.
“We’re not giving up in the fourth quarter,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said on Friday. “Since I took office two years ago, I have been focused on taking a team-centered approach that is responsible to the Raiders, the NFL, the fans and the taxpayers of Oakland. We’ve been successful in doing the environmental clearance, aligning the City and the County which jointly own the land, engaging the league and bringing partners to the table in the Lott Group and Fortress who have the financial backing, compassion for this community and intimate knowledge of the game — on and off the field — to get a deal done. All that’s missing is the Raiders.”
In Oakland’s proposal, The Fortress Investment Group led by Ronnie Lott would have lent the Raiders $600 million, Oakland would have been responsible for $200 million in infrastructure improvements. The City would have used its share of taxes generated by the stadium and mixed-use development to fund the infrastructure plan.
The City had also applied for a regional transportation grant for a $50 million upgrade to the Coliseum BART Station.
Schaaf said on Friday she believed Oakland had a good plan for the team.
“At the end of the day this is the decision of the Raiders and the NFL,” Schaaf said. “What I am confident about is, if the Raiders want to stay in Oakland we have a viable plan to build them a stadium with no upfront money from them, in financial terms that I believe are more favorable to them than the terms in Las Vegas — what we know of them.
Schaaf also said that Oakland had something Vegas can’t even offer–“legacy and loyalty.”
The Raiders also had the option of moving to the Los Angeles area, where they could have shared a facility with the recently relocated Rams.
Former Los Angeles Raiders great Marcus Allen made an emotional pitch to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in December and later to the Oakland City Council, saying that losing the team would be devastating for Oakland.
“It would be an emptiness that I don’t think the city could recover from,” he said back then.
Other speakers had urged caution even as they pledged support. They said officials should negotiate jobs and affordable housing for residents in east Oakland where the Coliseum is located, given the soaring cost of housing throughout the city.
At the time, a sticking point was that Alameda County and Oakland still needed to retire nearly $100 million in debt incurred for remodeling the current stadium to woo the team back from Los Angeles in 1995.
The Raiders’ new Oakland venue could have been a 55,000-seat stadium that could have included mixed-use retail in the future. The Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball would have continued playing at the Coliseum while the football stadium was being built.
The Rams moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles last year and are building a $2.6 billion stadium in Inglewood. The Chargers last week announced their relocation to LA and will be a tenant in that new stadium, scheduled to open in 2019.