The paperwork for relocation was submitted by the son of an outlaw owner who is now spearheading the second moving of the Oakland Raiders, this time it’s the promise of Las Vegas as the dream destination. Mark Davis has put his cards on the table making his intent known to the NFL.
But there’s a “Lott” that can still happen between now and then. It essentially comes down to who is going to get a facility built for the Raiders first. Ronnie Lott, who played for both the 49ers and the Raiders, is going to make a run to keep them knowing full well the aging Oakland-Almeda Coliseum is well past it’s prime.
He is part of an investment team that is that is working with the Raiders, NFL and officials in Oakland to build a $1.25 billion dollar stadium seating 55,000. “We are in this game and we are playing to win,” Lott stated.
But Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and the county have not been able to bring much support except vocal support to Lott’s bid. They cannot get public financing and owe around $100 million for the upgrades that enticed the Raiders to return after leaving for Los Angeles in 1982.
But the city does have sixty acres to offer on the site of the Coliseum to build on. That and an appeal to the past. “Only Oakland brings the Raiders and the NFL a competitive stadium proposal, along with legacy and loyalty,” Schaaf read in a statement.
But looking east the Raiders are not in a hurry quite yet. They are patiently looking at options and the one that looks the most attractive is the Las Vegas bid. The door to a $1.9 billion dollar stadium project due to complete in 2020 came to fruition. This was made possible by approval by the Nevada state legislature of not just the stadium but $750 million in public funds to be acquired by a tourism tax and $500 million from the Raiders themselves and a $200 million dollar loan from the NFL.
This suggests that the NFL may not be so much against the move for two reasons when the March vote comes along. A recent rash of relocations such as the Rams return to Los Angeles from St. Louis and the Chargers move from San Diego to Los Angeles as well, a place where they played their first and only season in 1960 where they played for the championship of the AFL losing to Houston has opened the door. The glut in this market also favors a move for the Raiders.
Secondly, the NFL’s view of Las Vegas which has changed from one of caution in dealing with a city that contains legalized gambling but sees a change. “It’s clear the Las Vegas market has become more diversified and more broadly involved with entertainment and hitting big events,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell explained. The Raiders and the NFL would be the biggest of draws from all over the region.
Also, the NFL frowns on third parties in negotiations of this kind preferring work details to be done between the team involved and the municipality directly which hurts Lott’s chances. Either way the Las Vegas Stadium Authority board has been given the go-ahead by the Oakland Raiders to move ahead with the investments currently in place. In the meantime, Oakland has already made known that they will be playing the next two seasons in Oakland at the very least. The game is on.
How badly does Oakland want the Raiders will be made clear during this period. If they rise to the occasion, the Raiders can thank the Vegas option for lighting a fire. If not the option is there in 2020. The Raiders are comfortable with the feeling that either way the wind blows, this pirate ship will find a rich port to welcome it.