Media Moves

Coverage: NFL will allow Raiders to move to Las Vegas

March 28, 2017

Posted by Chris Roush

Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 9.22.03 PMThe National Football League is allowing the Oakland Raiders to move to Las Vegas, which has committed $750 million for a new football stadium.

Jon Mark Saraceno of the Las Vegas Review-Journal had the news:

By a landslide 31-1 vote, NFL owners Monday approved the franchise’s second departure from the Bay Area, this time to the growing Las Vegas metropolitan region. The Miami Dolphins were the lone dissenting vote but no reasons were given.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and some owners said that the league wanted to remain in the nation’s sixth-largest television market but that no viable stadium-building solution could be worked out in Oakland between Alameda County officials and the Raiders.

“Unfortunately, we were not able to do that, and the plan that the Raiders now have to play in Nevada and Las Vegas is a very sound plan, and one that we’ve looked at very carefully, and it meets all of our standards and financial conditions,’’ said Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, chairman of the league’s powerful finance committee.

The vote ended a whirlwind 14-month courtship by business, county and state leaders. In a major coup for Las Vegas, the Raiders will join the NHL’s expansion Golden Knights as the city’s second major league sports franchise.

The Raiders will remain in Oakland for the 2017 season. But already there is a move afoot among Alameda County politicians to break a series a pair of one-year lease agreements with the team and immediately force them from the city. In all likelihood, the Raiders will play at least one preseason game at Sam Boyd Stadium in 2018 as the franchise waits for a $1.9-billon domed stadium to be completed in time for the 2020 season.

Rory Carroll of Reuters reports that stadium financing will come from Bank of America:

The Las Vegas relocation plan appeared to be all but dead after casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and later Goldman Sachs changed their minds earlier this year about helping to finance the stadium construction.

Adelson had pledged up to $650 million toward construction of the domed stadium but pulled his support in January after the team presented a lease proposal without his knowledge.

The Raiders secured financing to replace Adelson’s portion from Bank of America Corp.

An additional $750 million will come from public funds via a visitor’s tax on Las Vegas strip hotel rooms.

The Raiders will become the second major professional sports franchise to be based in Las Vegas. The National Hockey League’s Vegas Golden Knights begin playing in the 2017-18 season.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf made an 11th-hour push over the weekend to convince the owners and the NFL to delay the vote so she could promote a plan to keep the team in Oakland. It included a new, $1.3 billion stadium.

Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times reported some discomfort with Las Vegas as a pro football market:

There were significant concerns about the Las Vegas market, however, including the league’s longstanding discomfort with being formally associated with gambling. That has eased among owners in recent years with the ubiquity of online gambling, and the NFL’s infatuation with London, where sports gaming is a massive industry.

There also was consternation among owners about a team moving from the Bay Area, the nation’s sixth-largest media market, to Las Vegas, which is 40th on that list. That is believed to be one of the main reasons Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross opposed the relocation vote, although he was alone in that.

The NFL studied the Las Vegas market, along with the Raiders’ plan, and ultimately warmed to the idea.

“The existing size of Las Vegas, the diversification and the growth that it has undergone over the last 20 years, combined to make it a mid-sized market today but one that is exhibiting significantly above-average growth,” said Eric Grubman, an NFL executive vice president whose focus is stadiums and markets. “Those things combined to give the rest of the ownership confidence.”

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