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Raiders ‘cautiously optimistic’ about Las Vegas relocation vote

Updated March 22, 2017 - 7:36 pm

The president of the Oakland Raiders met Wednesday with Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak and discussed, among other topics, what Sisolak called the team’s “cautiously optimistic’’ view regarding a likely vote next week on the franchise’s relocation to Las Vegas.

Marc Badain, who has led Raiders owner Mark Davis’ negotiating efforts for 14 months, met Sisolak at the commissioner’s office in the Clark County Government Center, and the two spent three hours together. Sisolak would not comment on whether he believed the franchise has enough votes from NFL owners to move the team from the Bay Area to Southern Nevada, but he said the Raiders are still lobbying for votes.

The league’s annual meeting begins Sunday in Phoenix. A vote to relocate the tradition-rich franchise could come as early as Monday or as late as Tuesday, multiple league sources said.

“I’d say they (the Raiders) are cautiously optimistic but taking nothing for granted,’’ Sisolak said.

Another important matter to be finalized for the Raiders is the relocation fee they must pay the NFL. Owners have not yet specified the amount, but an NFL executive confirmed to the Review-Journal on Wednesday that the figure is between $300 million and $375 million. That’s considerably less than the $550 million the Rams and the Chargers each must pay for their moves to Los Angeles.

Sisolak said he and Badain also discussed the importance to Clark County and Nevada that the team’s $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium is built using local labor. They also talked about parking and traffic for the stadium.

“We discussed some potential solutions, and they’re committed to making sure we minimize any traffic or parking problems,’’ Sisolak said.

The 32 owners will huddle Sunday evening for the opening session of the league’s four days of meetings, which will address numerous key league issues. The most pressing topic is the Raiders’ request to move from the Bay Area to Southern Nevada. The franchise needs at least 24 votes for approval to relocate.

In a worst-case situation, the vote could be delayed until the owners meet in late May in Chicago, a high-ranking NFL source said. That scenario is highly unlikely because the most important issues were hammered out when the stadium and finance committees met with Davis, the franchise’s general managing partner, two weeks ago in Florida.

Chief among the concerns that were resolved was adequate financing for a stadium near the south Strip along Interstate 15. Bank of America officials appeared before the stadium and finance committees and pledged to co-finance the project with the Raiders’ contribution of $500 million and $750 million in bonds funded by an increase in the Clark County hotel room tax.

“Based on the assumptions for (the Raiders’ revenue and their expense stream) that they formulated, I think they can service that debt comfortably,’’ Sisolak said.

If the Raiders’ move is approved, it would be the second time they have departed Oakland, where Davis and Alameda County officials failed to secure a new stadium deal. It also would mark the NFL’s third approval of a franchise move in the past 26 months.

In January 2016, owners approved the Rams’ relocation from St. Louis to the nation’s second-largest market. Two months ago, the Chargers joined the Rams, leaving San Diego after 56 seasons.

Review-Journal staff writer Michael Scott Davidson contributed to this story. Jon Mark Saraceno can be reached at jsaraceno@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jonnysaraceno on Twitter.

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