If you’re a football fan who somehow managed to miss the rumors that started swirling in January, hold onto your proverbial hat. There actually is a chance that the Oakland Raiders will relocate to Las Vegas, and the decision could happen as early as next year.
On January 22, Raiders owner Mark Davis toured a vacant 24-acre lot with a group of Vegas VIPs. Among the big wheels in attendance at the outdoor meeting were Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn and Sands Corporation chairman Sheldon Adelson. The purpose of their stroll was to discuss a proposed 65,000-seat sports stadium and how best to fill it.
Earlier this week, Mark Davis returned to Las Vegas to meet with Nevada governor Brian Sandoval for further discussion about the stadium proposal and what it might mean for the future of the Oakland Raiders.
— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) March 21, 2016
On Thursday, March 24, the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee will formally entertain a proposal by the Sands Corporation and other investors. The proposal, which is almost certain to be approved, regards a new sports stadium in Sin City.
Imagine a domed sports facility that shelters 65,000 football fans from the scorching desert sun. Located within walking distance of the Las Vegas Strip, the shiny new stadium would provide UNLV the massive world-class stadium they deserve. The new facility would also be the ideal home field for an NFL team. A team that could conceivably be the Raiders.
The New York Times reports that a number of NFL owners and officials, including Raiders owner Mark Davis, recently got together in Boca Raton for an annual meeting. Among the topics covered was a potential move for the Raiders, who currently hold short-term lease options on the aging stadium they not-so-happily share with the Oakland As.
When asked if a move to Las Vegas would “maximize” the Raiders, Davis replied, “I think the Raiders would maximize Las Vegas.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told CBS Sports the following
“Mark Davis is appropriately looking at all of his alternatives. There are several cities that have a tremendous interest in the Raiders.”
One of those cities evincing tremendous interest in the Raiders is Las Vegas. Sands Corporation owner Sheldon Adelson told the Los Angeles Daily News, “It’s a very, very intriguing and exciting plan.”
Adelson, who disclosed the fact that his family recently purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal, said he will contribute some $420 million to the proposed project that is expected to cost at least $1 billion.
Not a few NFL owners voiced opposition to Las Vegas as a home for the Raiders or any other NFL team, citing a perilous collision of gambling and official league rules and regulations.
A high-ranking albeit anonymous league official said it would be a mistake to discount Sin City as a possible new home for the Raiders.
“Considering the Raiders brand and how well it could play in Las Vegas and all the various other dots that can be connected, the Raiders would have a very compelling argument to make.”
According to the New York Times, the Raiders have spent a considerable amount of time trying to convince Alameda County to build a replacement for Oakland Coliseum. So far, team efforts have been futile.
At the time of this writing, the Raiders are also considering the ramifications (had to say it) of potential moves to Los Angeles, San Diego, San Antonio, and Las Vegas. The Chargers have first dibs on the soon-to-be completed stadium in Los Angeles’ Inglewood district. An earlier bid to move the Raiders from Oakland to San Jose was nipped in the bud.
Alameda County approved a one-year lease of aging Oakland Coliseum on the behalf of the hometown football team in February. The lease comes with two one-year lease options that could enable the Raiders to stay in town through the 2018 season. If a new stadium is not proposed, planned, and erected in time, the Raiders will likely find other turf to tear up.
[Photo by Peter Aiken/Stringer/Getty Images]