The Oakland Raiders’ application for relocation to Las Vegas was in the cards for months, but it became official Thursday when the nomadic NFL franchise filed paperwork with the league.
The Raiders confirmed to the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the filing was sent Thursday morning to league headquarters in New York.
After Raiders owner Mark Davis filed the relocation paperwork, the team notified Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval of the action, the team told the RJ. The Raiders quickly notified Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, who tweeted the news first reported by the Review-Journal.
The Raiders did not want to wait until after the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 to file even though the relocation filing clearly creates a distraction for the league. The Raiders sought expediency because the sooner they filed, the sooner owners can vote on the move. Davis and team President Marc Badain will lead the franchise’s persuasion efforts to ensure they get enough owner support.
The owners can decide to vote at any time but likely will wait until they meet March 26 to 29 in Phoenix.
The NFL said the application will be reviewed in the coming weeks by the Stadium and Finance Committees.
“Today, the Oakland Raiders submitted an application to relocate their franchise to Las Vegas, as is provided for under the NFL Policy and Procedures for Proposed Franchise Relocations,” the league said in a statement. “The relocation of a franchise requires the affirmative vote of three-quarters of the NFL clubs (24 of 32).”
Our statement re Raiders. pic.twitter.com/Ru4BNulNUK— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) January 19, 2017
‘MAN OF HIS WORD’
Sandoval praised Davis for his commitment to Southern Nevada.
“Mark Davis is a man of his word, and the filing of the Raiders’ application for relocation of the franchise with the NFL is a significant step in bringing the team to Las Vegas,” Sandoval said.
The franchise has met a half-dozen times with the NFL’s stadium and finance committees during the past five months. Much of the due diligence on both sides has been completed, but there likely will be gaps of information and additional supporting materials that owners will want to see before voting.
Ultimately, the Raiders will submit their final reports to the stadium and finance committees, which will meet with team representatives to hammer out the details to everyone’s satisfaction.
“Today we moved one step closer to having an NFL team to call our own,” Sisolak told the Review-Journal. “This is very exciting for Las Vegas.”
RAIDERS, ADELSON NEGOTIATING
For months, Davis said he was committed to the stadium plan that was passed by Nevada lawmakers in October. A 65,000-seat, $1.9 billion domed stadium in Las Vegas calls for $750 million in public funding from a Clark County hotel room tax increase, plus contributions of $650 million from the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson and $500 million from the Raiders.
NFL and Raiders officials reported this month there were sticking points between the league, the team and Adelson over a lease agreement. Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II, chairman of the league’s stadium committee, said the league was prepared to move forward without Adelson. Meanwhile, Raiders officials said they had been in talks with Goldman Sachs about completing the financing package with or without Adelson’s contribution.
The Raiders and Adelson are still negotiating those details.
Andy Abboud, vice president of government relations and community affairs for Las Vegas Sands, has represented the Adelson family in stadium planning and financing talks. Abboud said the filing was a key moment in what once was an improbable dream of bringing the NFL to Las Vegas.
“This is another exciting development,” said Abboud, who is in Washington to attend the inauguration of President Donald Trump. “It’s really one of the most significant days in this entire process that the Oakland Raiders have filed their relocation papers to move to Las Vegas.
“So, financing is in place, the team has filed the relocation papers. It seems very clear that they’re going to be the Las Vegas Raiders. So we’re excited about the development, and we continue to talk with them, but this is one of the final stages of our dream of having an NFL franchise in Las Vegas and we’re very excited about it.”
2020 DEBUT IN LAS VEGAS?
Davis has said he plans to keep the team in Oakland until the Las Vegas stadium is finished, which isn’t expected until the 2020 NFL season. He said the team expects to play preseason games in Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium.
The Raiders have been considering a move to Las Vegas since early last year, when they were presented a stadium proposal last January. Only last month, at an owners meeting, did the league seem to warm to Las Vegas, a city the NFL has disdained because of its legalized sports betting.
The move would give Las Vegas two major league franchises. The NHL expansion Vegas Golden Knights open play in October at T-Mobile Arena.
The Oakland Raiders began play in 1960 in the defunct American Football League. They played there through 1981, when late owner Al Davis, the heart and soul of the franchise, moved the team to Los Angeles. The Raiders moved back to Oakland in 1995. Last year, the league denied the team’s application to move back to Los Angeles and instead allowed the Rams to move from St. Louis.
The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.
Michael Scott Davidson and Sandra Chereb contributed to this report. Contact Jon Saraceno at email@example.com. Follow @jonnysaraceno on Twitter.