The Raiders: From the bay to the desert

The Las Vegas Raiders? Yes, as of right now it looks like at the start of the next decade if not sooner, this question will become a true statement.

On Oct. 17, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed a bill into law a $750 million hotel tax to place the funding in order for the Raiders planned $1.9 Billion stadium in the desert. To fill in the rest of the budget, the Raiders would request a $500 million loan from the NFL, and some investors have also promised to give money to fund this mecca of a stadium. Las Vegas is a decent sized city, with a population of a little over 600,000 according to the US Census Bureau. In fact, there are more people living in Las Vegas than living in Oakland where the Raiders call home.

Las Vegas has always been the entertainment capital of the world, but it is always a question if professional sports leagues would want to move teams there and if they could sustain popularity. One of the main reasons why we have never seen professional sports in Vegas is because of the sports gambling in the city which is legal there.

Personally however, I believe that even though there is legal sports gambling there, the players still aren’t allowed to gamble on games. That is a rule that has been set in stone and we’ve seen the effects of this with Pete Rose who is Major League Baseball’s all time hits leader. Rose was caught gambling on games and has since been banned from baseball. Another question that comes up is will the Las Vegas population go out to the stadiums and watch the games, something that smaller market teams always worry about.

The plans for the stadium as of now would be 65,000 seats, which is 9,000 more seats than what they currently have in the ancient and out of date Oakland Coliseum. However, if the Raiders do indeed move to Las Vegas, they wouldn’t be the first professional sports league in the city. This past summer T-Mobile Arena was constructed just of the strip. After the completion of the $375 million project, the NHL announced that Las Vegas won rights to an expansion team and the team will have its inaugural season in 2017.

One major hurdle that faces Raiders owner Mark Davis is not the finances, but the approval for his team to leave Oakland for Las Vegas. For a team to move, 24 of the 32 league owners must approve the move. If this does not happen, the Raiders will most likely be stuck in Oakland. However, the Raiders have a long history of not following what the establishment has told them to do. In 1980, Raiders then owner Al Davis was looking for stadium improvements to the Oakland Coliseum, Davis agreed to move the tam to Los Angeles to play in the oversized Los Angeles Coliseum. The Raiders did not get the ¾ votes needed to move the team, so Al Davis decided to sue the NFL. After winning the lawsuit and moving the team to Los Angeles, it would only take Davis five seasons to realize that moving to an even older 95,000 seat stadium was not the best idea and started to look for a new stadium.

In 1995 the Raiders and the City of Oakland agreed to renovate the Oakland Coliseum and the Raiders would return home again. Since the 21 years back in Oakland, the stadium hasn’t gotten much better. Since 1995, 21 NFL stadiums have been constructed. The Coliseum is a relic that the Raiders are desperate to get away from. The stadium is severely outdated, there are even incidents of pipes breaking in the locker rooms and the rooms become flooded with water. This stadium is also from the “cookie cutter” era which was during the 1960s and 1970s where all stadiums built were to host both football and baseball teams.

The Coliseum is the last stadium that has a football team the Raiders and a baseball team the A’s playing there. Also there has been no budging on the City of Oakland trying to put a funding plan together. The Golden State Warriors who play next door in Oracle Arena, will also be leaving Oakland within the next couple of seasons to play in their new arena being built in San Francisco. I do believe that the Raiders are making the right decisions in attempting to move to Las Vegas.

They have been trying over and over to get a new stadium built and even with these plans going through, Oakland still has not stepped up to the table and tried to negotiate a deal. And if the owners decide to vote against the Raiders move, I am sure that Mark Davis will pull a page out of his father’s playbook and move the team anyway.