The Oakland Raiders have reportedly received a commitment to finance a new 65,000-seat domed stadium in Las Vegas, sources confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday following an original report by the Daily News.
According to the source, the Raiders reached a deal with Bank of America to finance the $1.9 billion project on Monday.
The franchise plans to apply for formal relocation during the NFL owners meetings on March 26-29 in Phoenix, a league source told ESPN. The Raiders will need approval from 24 of the 32 NFL owners for the move to take place.
The Raiders’ plan to move to Las Vegas hit a snag when potential donor Sheldon Adelson withdrew his proposed $650 million donation in January. The original agreement saw Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate, lead a $750 million hotel tax toward the project, while the franchise would pay $500 million. It was also rumored that NFL owners weren’t comfortable with Adelson’s involvement in the investment, especially after reports claimed he wanted partial ownership in the team.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed the league’s displeasure in the Raiders’ funding having gambling ties in January.
“We’ve seen the changes in the culture around the country in gambling,” Goodell said. “We’re obviously very sensitive to that, but we’re also going to evaluate the Raiders case on the relocation application in what’s in the overall best interests of the league. But one thing we can’t ever do is compromise on the game. That’s one of the things we’ll do is to make sure the policies we’ve created, if we did in any way approve the Raiders, I don’t see us compromising on any of the policies.”
Goodell noted in February that the league hadn’t made an official decision on the Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas, citing several factors needed to take place before the deal was completed.
“We haven’t made a determination about Las Vegas as an NFL market,” Goodell said. “That’s part of the relocation process. The Raiders submitted an application; it’s one that we’re considering carefully. But there’s a great deal more work to be done, and there are several elements of that — financing the stadium is just one.
“Obviously, the stadium project itself, the depth of the market, all of those are things that we’ve studied over the last several months. But that will increase in intensity over the next month or so as we move forward in that process.”
Following Adelson’s withdrawal, Goldman Sachs was reportedly in line to donate to the cause, but then withdrew its pledge as well.
The Raiders have proposed construction at a 62-acre plot on Russell Road, which is located on the south end of Las Vegas, and would share the stadium with UNLV. However, the stadium project is expected to run through 2020 and Raiders owner Mark Davis told ESPN in October that he planned to keep the team in Oakland during the next two seasons, even if the move is approved.
“We want to bring a Super Bowl championship back to the Bay Area,” Davis said.
The franchise currently has two one-year lease options on its current home, the Oakland Coliseum.
Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf made a case to keep the franchise in town on Monday, the same day as the Raiders’ reported agreement with Bank of America. However, reporters said no actual proposals were made and no representatives from the Fortress Investment Group, which is spearheaded by Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott to keep the team in the Bay Area, were in attendance.
“We presented a plan that we believe responsibly meets the needs of all parties,” Schaaf said in a statement. “We made a sound economic case for keeping the Raiders in Oakland through the creation of what would become one of America’s premier mixed-use sporting venues…The Oakland solution for the Raiders keeps the Raiders at home in Oakland, in the country’s sixth largest media market that is demonstrating strong growth due to its innovative and diverse economy.”
[Featured Image by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]