After decades of shunning Las Vegas, the NFL is finally moving closer to having a team in the Sin City.
Oakland Raiders have submitted paperwork with the NFL to move from Oakland to Las Vegas, the league announced on Thursday.
“The application will be reviewed in the coming weeks by league staff and the Stadium and Finance Committees. The relocation of a franchise requires the affirmative vote of three-quarters of the NFL clubs,” the league said in a statement. This means that the Raiders need to receive approval from at least 24 of the 32 teams, and the earliest the owners are expected to vote is during their Annual League Meeting in late March.
Major sports leagues, including the NFL and the National Hockey League (NHL), were previously against having their teams play in a city where sports betting is legal—until Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis started discussing his plans to relocate the team to the Sin City. The league said it is open to put a team in Las Vegas, but only if the city comes up with a good stadium deal.
For years, the team has been looking to replace their home, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, which is considered to be one of the oldest stadiums in the league. Sources told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport that city officials have “made no progress to keep the team,” nor has it “come up with a stadium proposal that league or independent sources believe is credible.”
Meanwhile, attempts to bring the Raiders to the desert has caught the eye of many backers, especially casino magnates like Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn who have been looking for new ways to bring tourists to Las Vegas.
The Nevada Senate already passed Senate Bill 1 in October that will raise hotel room taxes. The funds gained, which will total $750 million, will be used to build a 65,000-seat domed stadium to lure the Raiders into the Nevada desert. The stadium is expected to cost $1.9 billion to complete, and the funds will go a long way towards helping Raiders owner Mark Davis, who has previously committed $500 million, and Sands Corp. chairman Sheldon Adelson, who also pledged $650 million to the project.
But even if Raiders managed to secure the league’s approval, very little will change in the short term. According to Davis, the team will still play in Oakland for at least two more seasons while the Las Vegas stadium is still under construction.