In what could best be described as a bittersweet victory for the franchise, the Raiders are leaving Oakland for Las Vegas, after a 31-1 vote by NFL owners on Monday.
The vote that will relocate the Raiders to Las Vegas after 45 seasons in the Bay Area took place at the annual league meeting at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. Only 24 votes were needed to approve the move; the only team to vote against it was the Miami Dolphins, according to ESPN.com.
After the results of the vote were announced on Monday, Mark Davis, who inherited the team after the death of his father, Al Davis, in 2011, told ESPN.com that he had mixed feeling and that the move is very bittersweet. “I understand [Oakland fans] will be angry and disappointed. I want them to know that I do understand that it’s emotional. Raider Nation is the greatest fan base in the world and we’re going to build something to make them proud,” Davis said.
The team’s owners, who along with Davis and his mother, Carol, who own a 47 percent share of the Raiders, include the Davis’ heirs and the heirs of the original eight team partners; have been looking to exit Oakland for a couple of years at least. And on April 28, 2016, Davis announced that he wanted to move the team to Las Vegas and pledged $500 million toward the construction of a proposed domed stadium with a $2.4 billion price tag. Davis settled on the Las Vegas location after the NFL rejected the team’s relocation request last January.
The city of Oakland wanted to keep the team, which has been based in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area since 1960, only relocating to Los Angeles from Oakland in 1982, and then returning in 1995. In a last-ditch effort to keep the team in Oakland, on Friday the city’s mayor, Libby Schaaf, proposed a $1.3-billion stadium plan for a new football stadium at the current Coliseum site. However, a letter from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to city officials the same day spelled the end to the Raiders time in Oakland. “Despite all of these efforts, ours and yours, we have not yet identified a viable solution,” Goodell wrote.
The effort wasn’t enough, particularly because of the $750 million public subsidy from Las Vegas toward the new stadium, which would come from revenue raised from a Clark County hotel tax passed in October by the Nevada Legislature. Other funding for the $1.9 billion stadium project includes $500 million from the Raiders and a $650 million loan from Bank of America, after Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson and global investment banking firm Goldman Sachs, both of which were heavily involved with the project’s financing, withdrew from the stadium deal.
In a statement following the NFL owners’ vote, Schaaf said that she was disappointed that the team and the league chose Las Vegas over Oakland, and “I am proud that we stood firm in refusing to use public money to subsidize stadium construction and that we did not capitulate to their unreasonable and unnecessary demand that we choose between our football and baseball franchises, “ according to the news agency.
Sin City will now be home to two major teams, the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Golden Knights, which last June the NHL gave the green light for the creation of the Vegas Golden Knights, and will begin the 2017-2018 season in Vegas.
Davis said in a statement that the team plans to play at the Oakland-Alameda County 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,” according to the report. The Raiders possess two one-year options at the Oakland Coliseum. The team’s proposed 65,000-seat domed stadium will be shared with UNLV and is not expected to open until sometime in 2020.