Mark Davis tells owners he will file for Raiders' move to Vegas

ByJim Trotter ESPN logo
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Raiders owner Mark Davis could not have been more clear about his intentions Wednesday, when he informed fellow owners that, barring an unexpected surprise, he plans in January to file papers to move his team from Oakland to Las Vegas, multiple sources told ESPN.

"Mark Davis said that he was committed to Las Vegas 100 percent, and that there were several market studies being done by the Raiders," said one source who was present when Davis made his presentation at the league meetings in Houston.

There appears to be growing support for Davis among some owners as he has made no progress with Oakland officials over the last few years and was given clearance to file for relocation to Los Angeles earlier this year, though he lost out to Rams owner Stan Kroenke. Also, Las Vegas has committed $750 million in public money toward building a new stadium, presumably near the Strip.

"I don't know what there is to say other than, 'Congrats, Raiders on getting the largest public subsidy ever and cleaning up our L.A. [mess]," another source familiar with the Raiders' presentation told ESPN. "They've busted their ass to get something done. I respect that. ... Once you've stepped up and produced something, you deserve better."

Following his presentation, Davis told reporters he hasn't shut the door on anything, although Oakland might have shut the door on itself as home for his team.

"Oakland was in the driver's seat if they could've put together anything," Davis said Wednesday at the NFL's fall meetings, after updating his fellow owners on his desire to relocate to the gambling capital. "They came up with nothing.

"Las Vegas has already done what it is supposed to do and we have to bring it up to the National Football League and get permission to move to Las Vegas."

Nevada lawmakers approved a deal last week that increases hotel taxes in the Las Vegas area to raise $750 million for a stadium and more than $400 million to expand and upgrade the Las Vegas Convention Center. Billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson is putting $650 million toward the project, while the Raiders and the NFL will kick in $500 million.

Commissioner Roger Goodell tried to pump the brakes on the Raiders-to-Vegas talk Wednesday afternoon, telling the media there are a lot of unanswered questions and the league plans to do yet another home market study in Oakland.

Goodell, however, supported Davis' assertion there has been no movement toward keeping the franchise in the Bay Area, saying "we have been working to see if there are alternatives and we don't have one" in Oakland.

Any relocation needs approval from three-fourths of the 32 NFL owners. There's also the potential for the Raiders to join the Rams in Los Angeles, where a new facility is being built; they would have that option should the Chargers, who have the first option, remain in San Diego, a decision that team must make by mid-January.

Those scenarios also have the possibility of being put on hold -- the Chargers could request a delay, something the owners also would need to vote on.

Davis also said he believes having a new stadium ready in Las Vegas by 2019 "would be really quick." He admitted the Raiders could play a preseason game as soon as next summer in the existing Sam Boyd Stadium, but that that facility isn't up to NFL standards for regular-season games.

Besides, Davis plans to play the next two years in Oakland because the team has a lease with two one-year options there. He cited "stability" for the players and front office, insisting he doesn't envision a "scorched earth policy" from the fans.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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