Once again, the Oakland Raiders franchise is on the move. Only this time, it’s to the bright lights of Las Vegas.
The move was almost unanimously approved, 31-1, by the NFL’s 32 owners March 27.
The potential of move has been in the works for many years after Raiders owner Mark Davis tried to build a new stadium in Oakland in place of the Oakland Coliseum. When those plans fell through, the franchise searched for other potential homes, and a return to Los Angeles or debuting in Las Vegas were at the top of the list.
A relocation to L.A. was thrown out the window because of funding issues and because the city already has two teams. So Vegas was the ideal location for the franchise, and it’s finally coming to fruition.
The relocation won’t take place right away. Instead, the Raiders will wait to move until 2020 when construction on a stadium would be complete.
Here’s what you need to know about Las Vegas Stadium:
1. The New Stadium Is Estimated to Cost $1.9 Billion
The stadium project is estimated to come at a cost of around $1.9 billion.
It’s a state-of-the-art facility that neighbors the Las Vegas Strip and is being designed by Kansas City-based MANICA Architecture. The site it’d be located on is a 63-acre piece of land on Russell Road, on the west side of Interstate 15.
The plan is for it to be a domed, air-conditioned stadium with a capacity of 65,000 spectators. If a Super Bowl were to come to Las Vegas — which seems highly likely — the stadium can increase its capacity to 72,000 seats.
The design of the stadium currently includes a retractable, natural turf field and giant glass walls that open for a better view of the strip.
In addition to the massive stadium, parking for up to 8,000 cars with the ability for tailgating and mix-use development is in the works.
If proper agreements can be made, ground would be broken later in 2017 with an anticipated opening year of 2020.
2. There Would Be a Torch On One End Honoring Al Davis
One of the staples of the stadium would be an “eternal flame” dedicated to former Raiders owner Al Davis.
When Los Angeles was being thrown around as a potential landing place for the Raiders, the franchise again requested the eternal flame, the San Diego Reader reported.
The reason the flame is so important to the franchise is because of the vital role Davis played in establishing the franchise. He was the principal owner and general manager of the Raiders from 1972-2011 and was responsible for the original move from Oakland to Los Angeles, and then back to Oakland in 1995.
Davis had long toyed with the idea of having an NFL franchise in Las Vegas. He said during the 1980s that a move to Sin City would be great for the league, adding that the gambling that comes with the city is widely accepted within the league.
You know, when I came into the National Football League, many of our owners owned horses, owned dog tracks, owned all the familiar habitats of gamblers and gambling. We have learned to accept this in the National Football League. We have people, as I say, who own hotels in Las Vegas, and it is not frowned upon.
3. Tenants Could Include UNLV Football, UFC, MLS Soccer & More
The stadium wouldn’t only be the home for Raiders games.
The University of Nevada-Las Vegas seems likely sign on as a secondary tenant to the stadium, but would need to form a separate agreement with the Raiders in order to do so. The would have to outline how the two entities would function together. And the ground has been laid by state legislature, who crafted Senate Bill 1, which established a funding plan within the stadium district.
The Las Vegas Stadium Authority said March 9 during a hearing that UNLV will be a partner with the Raiders, but possibly a tenant at the stadium.
With the Ultimate Fighting Championship being headquartered in Las Vegas, it also seems logical that the MMA fighting league would host events at the stadium. In addition, a potential Super Bowl could be down the line, as well as hosting a number of events that are currently held at nearby Sam Boyd Stadium, which is owned by UNLV (the Las Vegas Bowl and USA Sevens rugby).
Other possible events could include major NCAA football bowl games, Major League Soccer matches and WWE WrestleMania.
4. Lawmakers Approved $750 Million In Public Funding For the Stadium
In 2016, Las Vegas leaped over a huge hurdle in funding for the stadium.
The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee unanimously approved $750 million of public funding to build the stadium. The funds from the public are a record amount for the state and would be compiled over 30 years.
The public funding would be raised through bonds that would be backed by a newly-introduced hotel tax.
The other money to make up the $1.9 billion cost comes from the Raiders and private parties. The Raiders have pledged $500 million for the stadium, while the other $650 million would be funded for by an outside source, such as The Goldman Sachs Group or Las Vegas Sands Corporation Chairman Sheldon Adelson, Forbes reported.
5. There Isn’t Yet a Lease Agreement In Place
While the site for the stadium and a funding plan was approved in October 2016, there isn’t yet a formal lease agreement between the Raiders and the Las Vegas Stadium Authority board, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
However now that the Radiers’ move has been approved by the NFL’s owners, they can continue to move forward with the paperwork.
Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak met with Raiders president Marc Badain for hours in mid-March — prior to the NFL owners’ approval — to continue moving forward with the chance to build Las Vegas Stadium, as it’s currently dubbed.
The lease agreement is in progress. They have an option to buy the land, which they will do if and when there is a relocation vote. And I think concerns about how they will service the debt were also addressed to everyone’s comfort.