CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported that NFL owners approved the move in a whopping 31-1 vote, with the Miami Dolphins being the only team that voted against it. The Raiders needed 24 of 32 votes and easily cleared the hurdle.
The expectation for the Raiders is they will play two more seasons in Oakland, with the 2019 season being a major question mark. The Raiders could play in Oakland for a third year, but could also play at UNLV’s stadium as well.
“We never want to see a relocation of a franchise,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We needed to provide certainty and stability for the Raiders, as well as for the league.”
The move has been expected for several weeks, with La Canfora reporting several days ago that the Raiders vote would be at the top of the docket at the NFL’s annual spring meetings. La Canfora also reported that a vote was expected to pass. A letter from Goodell to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf reaffirmed that likelihood, and now, the Raiders exit from Oakland is a reality.
“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,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said in a statement. “I would like to thank Commissioner 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 Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA. 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.”
Schaaf made a last-second push to try and keep the Raiders in the Bay Area, but ultimately it was too little, too late. And there was just too much public funding available in Las Vegas, even with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson backing out and requiring the Raiders to look elsewhere (Bank of America) to fund the stadium.
“Another betrayal in a community as valuable and deserving as the Bay Area will further destroy fan loyalty and the NFL’s brand,” Schaaf wrote in a letter to NFL owners.
Schaaf asked for a secret vote and a delay in the vote on whether to move the Raiders, but the NFL wasn’t interested in holding off, believing now was the time to take the leap into the desert.
Getting $750 million in public money to build a stadium in the desert is startling for the Raiders or any sports franchise in 2017. Add in another $200 million that was made available and it became abundantly clear that a departure was in the works.
There are some concerns because gambling is legal in Las Vegas. But as La Canfora has reported, many owners are going to be willing to pinch their noses and ride out the storm.
The Raiders will be the first NFL franchise to be based in the city many consider the gambling capital of the world.