National Football League team owners gave the green light to the Raiders to move to Las Vegas from Oakland, paving the way for the building of a new, $1.9 billion stadium in Sin City, the NFL said on Monday.
The plan by Raiders owner Mark Davis, who has been the driving force behind the relocation effort, won the support of 31 of the league’s 32 owners, with only the Miami Dolphins’ ownership dissenting.
“My father used to say that the greatness of the Raiders was in its future,” Davis said, referring to Al Davis, from whom he inherited the team in 2011.
“The opportunity to build a world-class stadium in the entertainment capital of the world will give us the opportunity to achieve that greatness,” he added following the vote.
The Raiders will play the 2017, 2018 and possibly 2019 seasons in Oakland before kicking off the 2020 season in Las Vegas, Davis said.
He acknowledged some fans in Oakland will be disappointed and even angry at the decision, but said that frustration should be directed at him and not the team’s coaches or players.
He said that in the meantime, his goal was to “bring a championship back to Oakland.”
The relocation plan appeared to be all but dead after casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and later Goldman Sachs earlier this year changed their minds about helping to finance the stadium construction.
Adelson had pledged up to $650 million toward construction of the domed stadium but pulled his support in January after the team presented a lease proposal without his knowledge.
But the Raiders secured financing to replace Adelson’s portion from Bank of America Corp.
An additional $750 million will come from public funds via a visitor’s tax on Las Vegas strip hotel rooms.
Davis thanked Adelson as well Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and the state legislature, which approved the tax measure, in his prepared remarks.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf had made an 11th-hour push over the weekend to convince the owners and the NFL to delay the vote so she could promote a plan to keep the team in Oakland. It included a new, $1.3 billion stadium, but was unsuccessful.
The plan would have also built a stadium for the Oakland Athletics baseball team, which currently plays in a ball park adjacent to the Raiders stadium.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday said there were too many unanswered questions surrounding the Oakland stadium plan for it to be viable.
“The points that we always put back to Oakland were that we need certainty and a viable plan that will work for the community and the team long-term,” he said during a press conference.
“We understand that contingencies sometimes occur but major contingencies that put the entire project into doubt are just unreasonable,” he said, citing issues about where the stadium would be located and the fate of the Oakland A’s baseball team, which has been rumored to be looking to leave Oakland as well.