The Oakland Raiders yesterday (Monday) received approval to relocate to Las Vegas, paving the way for the NFL American football franchise to build a new state-of-the-art stadium in Nevada.
NFL teams voted 31-1 in favour of the relocation, with Stephen Ross of the Miami Dolphins the only owner to oppose the plans.
The news means that three NFL teams have now relocated in the space of 14 months, with the Rams and Chargers both having moved to Los Angeles from St Louis and San Diego, respectively.
Raiders owner Mark Davis welcomed yesterday’s announcement. “My father always said, ‘the greatness of the Raiders is in its future,’ and the opportunity to build a world-class stadium in the entertainment capital of the world is a significant step toward achieving that greatness.
“I would like to thank commissioner (Roger) Goodell, the National Football League and my 31 partners. I would also like to thank Governor Brian Sandoval and the Nevada legislature for their commitment. Finally, I would like to thank Sheldon Adelson for his vision and leadership, without which this project never would have become a reality.
“The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA. 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.”
The team currently shares the Coliseum with Major League Baseball franchise the Oakland Athletics. The Raiders will continue to play at the stadium while work on the $1.9bn (£1.5bn/€1.8bn) stadium in Vegas is carried out.
The Raiders had a funding package for the stadium approved by the Nevada state legislature back in October. The team will provide $500m towards the project, and an additional $750m will be raised through hotel-tax increases.
Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, had been due to provide the remaining $650m, but he pulled out of the project last month, casting the relocation into doubt. Bank of America has reportedly stepped in to provide the additional funding.
Oakland had sought to keep the franchise in California and submitted a $1.3bn stadium proposal of its own, but Goodell dismissed the plans, stating that they were not achievable within a reasonable timeframe.
It is hoped that the Raiders will be able to move into the 65,000-seat Vegas stadium by no later than the 2020 NFL season.