The Raiders are seemingly progressing toward a move to Las Vegas by next season, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wants the franchise to remain in Oakland, its longtime home.
“No market should lose their team once let alone twice. I believe there’s a solution in Oakland,” Goodell told reporters Sunday (Twitter link via Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press).
The Raiders first played in Oakland from 1960-1981 before relocating to Los Angeles through the 1994 campaign. The club then returned to Oakland, though it now appears in danger of heading elsewhere again.
The Raiders haven’t made progress toward the construction of a new stadium in Oakland, but earlier this week, the Southern Nevada Tourism and Infrastructure Committee approved the use of a record $750MM in public money for a facility that would house the team in Las Vegas. The next step is for the $1.9MM billion stadium proposal to receive a thumbs up from Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and state Legislature, which appears likely, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report said Friday.
It helps Vegas’ cause that Raiders owner Mark Davis is eager to move the team there. After the SNTIC’s decision, Davis told USA Today via text message, “We are excited and thanks to the committee.”
While Goodell would like for Davis to keep the Raiders where they are, he didn’t close the door on relocation Sunday.
“We recognize the power and strength of the Raiders’ brand and understand their desire to explore all possible options for the team’s future,” said Goodell (via CSNBayArea.com).
Goodell added that there’s “still a lot of work to be done” for Las Vegas to become part of the NFL (via the Associated Press). While Goodell acknowledged that it’s up to the league’s 32 owners whether a franchise will end up there, he’s unsure if placing a team in a casino-filled city would be a good idea.
To this point, the city of Oakland, led by Mayor Libby Schaaf, hasn’t shown a willingness to commit nearly as much in public money to a new stadium as Vegas could.
“As Mayor of Oakland, it’s my job to remain fully focused on what I can do to responsibly keep the team where they belong, here in Oakland,” Schaaf said Thursday. “While Nevada lawmakers consider making the largest public investment in a private stadium deal in history by approving a $750 million public subsidy for a facility in Las Vegas, I will continue to work with the NFL and the Raiders’ designee Larry McNeil to iron out a deal that works for the team, the league, the fans and the taxpayers in Oakland.”
If the Raiders’ Vegas plans fall through, their only choice might be Oakland. In theory, a return to Los Angeles could happen if the Chargers don’t join the Rams there, but CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported on Sunday that the Bolts look likely to move there. He added that the league doesn’t want the Raiders to go back to LA.
For now, the Raiders are on a one-year lease to play at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, which opened in 1966. In what could have been the team’s final home opener in Oakland, the Raiders dropped a 35-28 decision to the Falcons on Sunday.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.