Before the Rams moved from St. Louis back to Los Angeles this season, an NFL team hadn’t moved since the Oilers left Houston for Tennessee (Memphis temporarily, then Nashville) in 1997. Now, it appears the Raiders — who left L.A.for Oakland in 1995 — could be on the move again in the near future. There have been rumors for months that Raiders owner Mark Davis has been eyeing Las Vegas, and after a legislative session Friday in Nevada, that move appears to be closer than ever to materializing.
On Friday, the state approved $750 million toward a new 65,000-seat domed stadium to be built with the intention of luring the Raiders to the city, to join the upcoming NHL franchise that is slated to begin play at the recently opened T-Mobile Arena in the 2017-18 NHL season. The Nevada Assembly approved the funding in a 28-13 vote after the bill passed the state Senate, 16-5, earlier in the week. That $750 million will fund more than a quarter of the cost of the stadium, which is expected to have a total pricetag of $1.9 billion. Gov. Brian Sandoval is expected to sign the bill in a public ceremony on Monday, during which Davis is scheduled to be in attendance.
The move still has to be approved by the NFL owners, who are expected to vote on it at a January meeting after the Raiders give a presentation at the owners’ meetings next week in Houston. The team needs 24 of the 32 owners to approve the relocation, and according to Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn, who has supported the stadium proposal, he has been assured by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Patriots owner Robert Kraft — who hold significant influence among their peers in the NFL — that the owners will vote in favor of the move.
The Raiders — who, led by QB Derek Carr, are having their best season on the field since making the Super Bowl in the 2002 season — issued a statement on Friday in which they said the upcoming stadium “will serve as a proud new home for the entire Raider Nation.” The new stadium isn’t expected to be ready until 2020 so the Raiders are expected to play in a temporary stadium until then, likely the 40,000-seat Sam Boyd Stadium, home of the UNLV Rebels football team.
The $750 million being provided by Las Vegas will come from increasing the hotel tax on visitors to the city. Other funding for the facility includes $500 million coming from the Raiders, including a $200 million loan from the league, and the remainder coming from a group led by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has a net worth approaching $30 billion according to Forbes magazine.
If the Raiders move, it would be the second time they leave Oakland after moving to Los Angeles in 1982 before heading back to the Bay Area 13 years later.