[toc]After months of speculation, it is official: The NFL has a Las Vegas franchise.
Today the 32 owners of NFL teams met in Phoenix, AZ to vote on whether or not the Oakland Raiders can officially move forward with a relocation to Las Vegas, NV.
All but the Miami Dolphins owner approved the move, so come 2020 the Las Vegas Raiders will be playing games in a brand-new, $1.9 billion stadium.
Raiders will stay in Oakland for the time being
The team is definitely moving, but unlike recent transplant, the Los Angeles Rams, the Raiders are not packing up their things just yet.
The team will remain in Oakland for at least two more seasons. During that time, construction begins on the $1.9 billion stadium which helped lure the team away from California. Some are terming the two remaining years in Oakland “lame duck” years, but team owner Mark Davis strongly disagrees with that description:
“First off, I wouldn’t use the term ‘lame duck. We’re still the Oakland Raiders, and we are the Raiders, we represent the Raider Nation. As I said earlier, there’s going to be some disappointed fans and angry fans, and it’s going to be up to me to talk to them and let them know why, how and what has happened, and hopefully we can work things out and work together for the future.”
While Vegas-based football fans celebrated by the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, others in California are disappointed to see the team relocate for the second time. The Raiders temporarily moved to Los Angeles from 1982-1994.
Sam Boyd stadium not an option for the team…yet
Currently the Rams share the LA Coliseum with the University of Southern California football team. A similar arrangement is not in the cards for the Raiders and the University of Las Vegas (UNLV) Rebels.
Sam Boyd Stadium, host of UNLV football games, is a smaller venue than the LA Coliseum. The Vegas stadium seats 35,500, compared to the Coliseum’s 93,000.
The lack of seats and potential problems accommodating TV crews makes Sam Boyd an unappealing option. The Clark County commissioner went so far as to call it “not suitable for NFL games.”
The LA Chargers are also in the process of relocating. The team is set to play at StubHub Center in Carson, CA. That stadium has a capacity of just 30,000, making it the smallest stadium in the NFL. The size of the arena is already drawing a fair share of criticism.
Sam Boyd is not entirely out of the question if the team reaches an impasse with Oakland Alameda Stadium, but the endgame is the new Las Vegas Stadium.
$750 million in tax dollars will go towards new stadium
The bulk of the financing for the new domed stadium will come from the team, the NFL, and bank financing, but $750 million of the cost will come from Nevada tax dollars.
Originally, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson pledged $650 million to the project, but he rescinded the offer last year. Even with that setback, the move is still going to happen.
How will the Las Vegas Raiders affect sports betting?
Historically, the NFL has a very strict stance against sports betting. The league is a plaintiff in the ongoing sports betting case involving New Jersey. The league also previously avoided hosting any games in Nevada, where sports betting is legal. The NFL has, on the other hand, hosted several games in London, England, where wagering on said games is also legal.
Last year, the NHL became the first major sports league to have a team in Las Vegas. The expansion team Las Vegas Golden Knights will start league play in the fall. The NFL following suit could be a sign the tides are turning and the league is becoming more open to sports wagering.
There is some concern Nevada sports books will no longer be able to offer wagers on Raiders game. Monday Morning Quarterback reporter Albert Breer broached the subject with the league shortly after the move became official:
Asked NFL EVP Eric Grubman if there’s a provision that Raiders have to come off the board — “It’s not an issue we’ve taken up as a league.”
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 27, 2017
It is not necessarily a bad thing, but the answer indicates this is an issue the league is not dealing with for now. That is not to say the subject will not come up again as the Radiers’ relocation becomes more imminent.