Raiders move takes another step forward in Vegas vote

Just move, baby.

That’s the chant going on in Las Vegas after the Associated Press reported that a Nevada oversight committee voted unanimously to recommend $750 million in public funding for the project.

With the vote, there aren’t many big hurdles left before the Raiders find themselves playing in the desert, though the team plans to remain at the current Alameda location between games.

What’s left for groundbreaking isn’t as much of an obstacle as it seemed to be a year ago: the upper echelon of the Nevada legislature and the governor need to sign off, which is expected to happen, and then 24 of the 32 NFL owners also need to grant their approval.

Support from owners isn’t bleak, and several reports have emerged since May suggesting that Las Vegas will be the Raiders’ home if the proposals pass through government.

The stadium would be funded from several pools of money as things stand now; $750 million would be generated by an increase in Las Vegas tourism tax, $650 million coming from the Las Vegas Sands Corporation — brainchild of billionaire Sheldon Adelson — and another $500 million from the Raiders’ own pockets.

The $1.9 billion project would also be used by the University of Las Vegas and as a venue for concerts, conventions and other major events.

It’s also hard to fathom a scenario where the Super Bowl wouldn’t be played there.

Las Vegas was considered off-limits for sports for one century, but with the advent of online gambling and the widespread popularity, the threat of illicit business is no longer a real concern. Anyone can place a wager from their smartphone in less than a minute, from anywhere in the world.

The Raiders currently play at the Oakland Coliseum, a nearly 50-year-old building that was their first major home and the only one that the team has known since moving back to Oakland from Los Angeles in 1995.

It’s habitable enough that the team hasn’t been told to play elsewhere by the league, but the dirt infield from its multipurpose use lasts until October or later and it’s not nearly as attractive as most other buildings in the NFL.

Raiders majority owner Mark Davis has reiterated several times that his first goal was to remain in Oakland, but that all other options would be considered if the city was unwilling to meet the team halfway — essentially saying pony up, or else.

While former Oakland mayor Jean Quan was willing to at least consider a solution that involved tax dollars, new mayor Libby Schaff was remained steadfast in her stance that no public money will be used to build a stadium besides forms of infrastructure such as roadways and utility lines.

Oakland has long been considered one of the most dangerous cities in America, with the area that surrounds the Coliseum one of the most notorious areas.

The 2016 murder rate has been one of the lowest in years, though some locals will claim that the result is the result of bad aim, and not a decline in general shootings.

The city recorded 153 murders in 1995, the year the Raiders returned to Oakland, a figure that hasn’t been duplicated since. There were, in fact, fewer than 100 murders from 1998 until 2002, though the decline began before the team returned from their southern California vacation and the cities all time high was recorded in 1992.

Raiders fans still come from Los Angeles to root their team on when Sunday rolls around, though, and the team hopes that trend continues if they do indeed relocate.


Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Raiders football.