Raiders relocate to Las Vegas

April 3rd, 2017 by Staff

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I just returned from the league’s annual meeting in Phoenix. The big topic at the meeting this year was the Raiders’ application to relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas. Since the Rams and the Chargers had both relocated within the last 15 months, the owners (and staff members at the league office) were very deliberate in analyzing this situation. Two of the league’s committees (stadium and finance) had jointly studied the Oakland and Las Vegas markets, as well as the stadium proposals in both cities, and recommended that the owners support the Raiders move to Las Vegas.

Relocation of professional sports teams is always a very difficult process. It is extremely emotional for the fans of the team. The common theme for these three teams was an inadequate, outdated stadium. The stadium in St. Louis was really more of a convention center than a stadium, and well behind the newer domes. The Chargers and Raiders both played in stadiums built in the 1960s and designed primarily for baseball. With inadequate stadiums, it was hard for these teams to remain competitive both on and off the field. The proposal for a new stadium in Oakland was deemed by the committees to have too many contingencies and risks, and to not be viable. Ultimately, the owners voted 31-1 to allow the Raiders to move to Las Vegas.

While there is certainly risk involved in the move to Las Vegas, there are also many positives. The proposed stadium is very impressive. The total cost will be $1.67B, with 63,000 seats and expandable to 73,000 for Super Bowls. The Nevada legislature approved $750 million in public money for construction of the stadium, and $200 million for maintenance over a 20-year period. The stadium is half a mile from the airport, so it will be easy for fans traveling from out of town to get to the stadium. The stadium will be a dome with a translucent cover, and a natural grass field that will slide in and out. Las Vegas is a fast-growing market (it is projected to be larger than Oakland in 2034), with a diverse population base that should help the league’s international efforts. Also, Las Vegas is obviously a great tourist destination, and this should be a boon to the NFL’s on-location business. The last 15 months have been challenging for these three teams (and the league), and I know they are all excited to focus on the future and establishing themselves in their new markets.

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