After years of trying to escape Oakland, Raiders owner Mark Davis is finally getting his wish. The team is headed for Las Vegas after NFL owners approved the move in a 31-1 vote at the Annual League Meeting. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was the only owner to vote against the move.
“I understand [Oakland fans] will be angry and disappointed. I want them to know that I do understand that it’s emotional. Raider Nation is the greatest fanbase in the world and we’re going to build something to make them proud,” Davis told ESPN.com after the announcement was made. “But I also want them to give as much support to the team as possible as we attempt to bring a championship to the Bay Area.”
The Raiders will call a massive $1.7 billion stadium on the Strip home, and Nevada lawmakers have already approved $750 million in public funding for the complex, which isn’t expected to be ready until 2020. The Raiders will play at the Oakland Coliseum through the 2018 season, and maybe through 2019, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the meeting that the league would look into other potential venues for 2019.
“The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA,” Davis said Monday. “We know that some fans will be disappointed and even angry, but we hope that they do not direct that frustration to the players, coaches and staff. We plan to play at the Coliseum in 2017 and 2018, and hope to stay there as the Oakland Raiders until the new stadium opens. We would love nothing more than to bring a championship back to the Bay Area.”
Al Davis, Mark Davis’ father, also took the Raiders out of Oakland from 1982 to 1994, when they played as the Los Angeles Raiders. Fans were thrilled to see the team come back in 1995, and what drew the Raiders home was the promise of an improved stadium. The team got what it asked for, at a $350 million cost to taxpayers and, even after the team leaves, Oakland residents will still be footing the bill.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the city will be paying off the 1995 stadium improvements until 2025 at a rate of $13 million per year.
Ross, the lone owner to vote against the relocation, said commitment to fans was the reason for his opposition.
“My position today was that we as owners and as a league owe it to the fans to do everything we can to stay in the communities that have supported us until all options have been exhausted. I want to wish Mark Davis and the Raiders organization the best in Las Vegas,” Ross said in a statement.
Photo credit: Chris Yunker (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/]
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