The Las Vegas Raiders


Conor Coleman, Sports Section Editor

The Raiders are leaving Oakland again, this time for the neon lights of Las Vegas. NFL owners voted 31-1 last Monday at the Annual League Meeting to approve the Raiders’ proposal to relocate to Las Vegas. The Raiders only needed 24 votes, but the only owner that voted “No” for the move to Las Vegas was Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. “My position today was that we as owners and as a league owe it to the fans to do everything we can to stay in the communities that have supported us until all options have been exhausted.  I want to wish Mark Davis and the Raiders organization the best in Las Vegas,” Stephen Ross said.

In what is sure to be an awkward process, the Raiders won’t be moving immediately. The new stadium in Las Vegas is not expected to be ready until 2020. The Raiders plan to play at the Oakland Coliseum in 2017 and 2018.  Davis  expressed openness to staying in Oakland in 2019, although NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league would look into potential venues for 2019. In the meantime, the Raiders will remain the Oakland Raiders. The new 65,000-seat domed stadium in Las Vegas will cost an estimated $1.9 billion dollars. The Raiders have committed $500 million toward the projected total stadium project, with another $750 million coming in the form of public funding, including a hotel tax passed by the Nevada Legislature in October. The team has informed the NFL that Bank of America is also helping to finance the deal with a $650 million loan after casino magnate Sheldon Adelson withdrew his $650 million pledge in late January, essentially saying the Raiders dealt with him in bad faith. The University of Nevada Las Vegas Rebels football team will also play in the new stadium on college football Saturdays.

Many fans from California and NFL fans in general are extremely sad to see the Raiders leave a city that has always loved them, no matter how much success they had on the field. Libby Schaaf, the mayor of Oakland, said that losing the Raiders will tear at the city’s psyche and pride, and that the league will regret its decision. “The Raider nation is the last of the blue-collar, salt-of-the-earth fan bases, and it absolutely breaks my heart to lose this team,” Schaaf said.

NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman acknowledged the league did studies on Las Vegas, which, at No. 40, would be the league’s fifth-smallest market, but ahead of Jacksonville (No. 47), New Orleans (No. 51), Buffalo (No. 53) and Green Bay (No. 68). The Raiders become the third team in the past two years to be granted approval to relocate. Previously, both the Rams and Chargers were allowed to relocate to Los Angeles from St. Louis and San Diego.