Raiders owner Mark Davis says he wants to move team to Las Vegas

ByPaul Gutierrez ESPN logo
Thursday, April 28, 2016

LAS VEGAS -- Raiders owner Mark Davis said Thursday that he wants to move the team to Las Vegas and pledged $500 million toward the building of a proposed $1.4 billion domed stadium in the renowned gambling city during a meeting of the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee at UNLV.

And while Davis did not promise to move the Raiders to Las Vegas, he did move the bar with his pledge to contribute to the stadium.

Davis said he hopes to turn Nevada, "the Silver State, into the silver and black state."

He also recalled the Raiders playing an exhibition game in Las Vegas in 1964.

"I hope it's not another 50 years before the Raiders play another game in Las Vegas," Davis said.

Soccer star David Beckham also sat at the table with Davis. Sands Corp. chairman Sheldon Adelson, who is spearheading the 65,000-seat stadium project, wasn't at the meeting. Beckham does promotional work for Sands.

"To bring a great organization like the Raiders to Las Vegas is amazing, but it's bigger than that," said Beckham, who referenced Major League Soccer's potential expansion to southern Nevada as well as the potential for international soccer matches featuring the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid.

With the Raiders pledging $500 million -- $200 million from an NFL loan -- and Sands contributing $150 million, $650 million of the $1.4 billion stadium budget comes from private funds. The rest would be generated by tourism taxes. Backers said Thursday they would ask for a special session of the Nevada Legislature in August to approve diverting some room-tax funds for the stadium.

Rival casino operators say they need to be assured first that there is enough in the pot to fund an expansion of the city's convention center at the same time.

Davis said other sites besides a 42-acre spot owned by UNLV on Tropicana Avenue, across from McCarran International Airport, are being looked at in the search.

Such a project could take three years, and Davis said that in the interim, the Raiders likely would play one preseason game a year at 35,500-seat Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas but maintain their home base in Alameda, California, and play home games at the Oakland Coliseum.

The Raiders have two one-year leases at the coliseum that take them through 2018. Raiders president Marc Badain said there has been no progress made in recent months with officials in Oakland about a new stadium there.

Davis said he is committed to carrying on the legacy of his father, former owner Al Davis, and that the No. 1 thing to ensure the Raiders' brand lives on is that the team gets a new stadium.

He insisted he isn't trying to use Las Vegas as a bargaining chip and spoke of a "lifetime" commitment to the city.

"We need a home. We need a stadium," Davis said. "That's what Las Vegas is going to provide us, and it's going to be a great marriage."

There were few pointed questions from committee members, and at one point, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman was gushing in her love and support for the team.

"We're not using Las Vegas as a bargaining chip," Davis said. "This is real."

It is the inclusion of the Raiders that is pushing the Las Vegas stadium forward, and the appearance of Davis before the committee was the most solid commitment to date to moving an NFL team to the city.

The NFL has long shunned Las Vegas, refusing its TV ads and telling players not to make appearances at casinos. But Davis said he believes owners will approve the move if the stadium is built.

"If we give them an offer they can't refuse, and that's what we're talking about now, I don't see a problem," Davis said.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell softened on the league's opposition to Las Vegas in recent weeks, saying it would be up to owners whether a team could be in a city that features legalized sports betting.

"Ultimately, that's a decision of the ownership," Goodell said Wednesday on Fox Sports' "The Herd with Colin Cowherd." "There are owners that will feel very strongly about continuing to support our position on gambling. There will be owners that will have a view about whether that's the best market for us to be in. Whether there's truly the fan support there. They will look at the stadium alternatives. And I think that's what you do in any relocation and you do with any stadium alternative.

"We would love to have our teams stay where they are. I'd love to see the Raiders be able to stay in Oakland and continue to be successful."

The NFL already plays games in London, where many betting parlors take wagers on the games.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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