By Flint Wheeler
With the recent approval of $750 million in public money for a new football stadium in Las Vegas, Mark Davis, the owner of the Oakland Raiders, said Wednesday that he was more determined than ever to move the team there.
The governor of Nevada, Brian Sandoval, signed a bill in late 2016 that puts $750 million from hotel taxes toward the construction of a domed stadium that could house a professional football team. The total cost is expected to be around $2 billion, with private money filling in the gap.
Davis, who briefed the owners of the other 31 N.F.L. teams on the possible move at a meeting here, has not said how he and his partners would pay for the relocation of the team or the privately financed part of the new stadium.
Yet in obtaining a commitment for significant public financing — something that usually comes after the private funding for a stadium is assembled — Davis appears to be moving faster than had been expected just a few months ago toward developing a formal proposal to move the team.
“Las Vegas has already done what they’re supposed to do,” Davis said to reporters after the legislation was signed. “We just have to present it to the N.F.L. and get the approval to move to Las Vegas.”
For years, Las Vegas was considered off-limits to N.F.L. teams because of its association with sports gambling and fears that the proximity would make game-fixing tempting. But in recent years, the owners have warmed to the idea of having a team there, as the rapidly growing city has become more of an entertainment and family destination.
The N.F.L. commissioner, Roger Goodell, said the owners could see a formal proposal from the Raiders as early as the next owners’ meeting in December, but more likely in January. At the same time, the league and the team must also complete research to determine whether Las Vegas has a sufficient number of fans and the corporate support necessary to sustain a team.
The league also wants to see what role, if any, the casino magnate Sheldon G. Adelson, who has pledged $600 million of his personal fortune to the project and has expressed interest in ownership rights, might have. Under league rules, owners of a team cannot have gambling ties. The owners would also have to determine a relocation fee that the Raiders would have to pay.
Goodell and several owners said in Houston that all things being equal, they would prefer that teams remain in their current markets. But the lack of a proposal for a new stadium in Oakland and the commitment from lawmakers in Nevada to help pay for a stadium, have made Las Vegas an attractive alternative.
To keep all options open, the league continues to talk with the City of Oakland about how it might help the Raiders stay there.
Libby Schaaf, the mayor of Oakland, has said that the city is willing to provide the property for a new stadium and infrastructure improvements but will not help pay for a new stadium, which could cost more than $1 billion.
Davis said he was seeking to move to Las Vegas only because Oakland “came up with nothing, zero.” He insisted that his efforts to move to Las Vegas were not a way to gain leverage in negotiations with Oakland.
Regardless, Davis said the Raiders would remain in Oakland for at least two more years. The team, he said, has options to play in its current home, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, in 2017 and 2018. He said getting a stadium built in Las Vegas in time for the 2019 season might be difficult.
He did say, though, that the Raiders were likely to play a preseason game in Las Vegas next year.
While the owners consider Las Vegas, they are also awaiting the results of a special ballot measure in San Diego in which residents will have a chance to approve tax increases to help pay for a stadium the Chargers want to build near downtown. Courts have yet to resolve whether the ballot measure can pass with a simple majority of votes, or if needs a two-third majority.
As part of the decision this year to let the Rams move to Los Angeles, the Chargers have until early January to exercise an option that would let them to move into a new stadium that the Rams are building in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood. If the Chargers forgo that option, the Raiders would then have the chance to move in with the Rams.