The Raiders are headed to Sin City.
NFL owners on Monday approved the team's proposal to move from Oakland to Las Vegas and a new $1.9 billion domed stadium set to open in time for the 2020 season.
The Raiders needed support from 24 of the 32 NFL owners to make the move, and Mark Davis didn't have much trouble convincing 23 of his peers that this was a move that had to be made. According to ESPN, only the Dolphins voted against the relocation.
The Raiders have long sought a stadium upgrade from the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, which they have called home since 1966 aside from their stint in Los Angeles from 1982-94. But Bay Area government officials showed little interest in the type of financial commitment the team and the league demanded, while Las Vegas pledged $750 million in public funds toward the construction of a new stadium.
Though Oakland tried to get owners to delay a relocation vote, with Mayor Libby Schaaf having a note to that effect hand-delivered to the owners' meetings in Phoenix, the NFL has made it increasingly clear it didn't view staying put as a viable option.
“We believe we and the Raiders have worked earnestly in Oakland for over a decade to try to find that viable option in Oakland," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at a news conference Monday. "We needed to provide certainty and stability for the Raiders as well as the league.”
Mark Davis: 'We'll be happy to refund' season tickets to any Raiders fans in Oakland who don't want them.— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) March 27, 2017
Monday's vote was another disappointment for Oakland-area fans and a significant gamble by the NFL on the viability of Las Vegas as a major sports market. It doesn't have the population base the NFL generally looks for, and its television market is only the 40th-biggest in the country. But the NFL is hoping the constant flow of tourists to the Las Vegas Strip, just across the freeway from the proposed stadium, will keep the turnstiles humming.
While some owners had expressed reservations earlier in the process about putting a team in city famous mostly for its gambling opportunities, those concerns obviously weren't enough to outweigh the financial incentives in the league's favor.
Unlike the Chargers in their move from San Diego to Los Angeles, the Raiders won't relocate right away. They have two years remaining on their lease at the Coliseum and for now are planning to play them out.
“The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA," Davis said in a statement released by the team. "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.”