Oakland Raiders seek NFL's blessing for move to Las Vegas

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 19, 2017 1:35 PM

By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) - The National Football League's Oakland Raiders filed paperwork with the league on Thursday to move to Las Vegas following months of negotiations to build a new stadium in Nevada, officials said.

The NFL said in a statement the Raiders' application would be reviewed in the coming weeks by league staff and its Stadium and Finance Committees. The relocation of a franchise requires the affirmative vote of three-quarters of the NFL's 32 owners.

The Raiders are unhappy with their current stadium, the Oakland Coliseum, which opened in 1966. The team, which has won three Super Bowl championships, originated in Oakland in 1960 and moved to Los Angeles in 1982 before returning to Oakland in 1995.

Raiders owner Mark Davis, whose late father Al Davis helped create the team's outlaw reputation, has expressed dissatisfaction with the aging stadium and for much of last year pursued a possible move to Las Vegas.

If the Raiders land in Las Vegas, they would become only the second major sports franchise in the gambling mecca. A National Hockey League expansion team, the Golden Knights, will begin playing in the city in the 2017/2018 season.

In an attempt to lure the Raiders, Republican Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval in October signed a bill to increase hotel taxes to help raise $750 million for a new $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium that would be constructed for the team in Las Vegas.

"Mark Davis is a man of his word and the filing of the Raiders' application for relocation of the franchise with the NFL is a significant step in bringing the team to Las Vegas," Sandoval said in a statement on Thursday.

Last month, officials in Oakland, in a bid to keep the Raiders in town, voted to work with a group led by retired football star Ronnie Lott that was seeking to build a $1.3 billion stadium.

But at the time, Davis had not committed to staying in Oakland and the team's latest move indicates it will go forward with its relocation plan.

Representatives for the Raiders did not return calls or emails seeking comment.

Last week, the San Diego Chargers, who have also been unhappy with their stadium, announced they would move to Los Angeles this year.

That decision follows last year's relocation of the St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles, giving the second-largest city in the United States two NFL teams after going two decades without one.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alan Crosby)