NFL owners voted overwhelmingly to approve a nearly $2 billion stadium deal at league meetings in Phoenix Monday, paving the way for the Oakland Raiders to move to Las Vegas in 2020.
The approximately 65,000 seat facility will be located just blocks from the Vegas Strip in the unincorporated town of Paradise, Nev., west of I-15 and only minutes from McCarran International Airport.
While the city of Oakland, Calif., and Alameda County had presented the NFL with a plan to build the Raiders a new stadium on the property where the team currently plays, the state of Nevada offered owner Mark Davis $750 million in public money to finance the new Las Vegas stadium through a hotel tax approved legislatively in October 2016.
Mayor Libby Schaaf offered the NFL a $1.3 billion stadium with no public financing on the site of the current Oakland Coliseum last week. That proposal was rejected by Commissioner Roger Goodell, however, who said the plan was “filled with uncertainty,” and not a “viable solution,” in-part because of the inclusion of the Athletics Major League Baseball franchise.
“I am proud that we stood firm in refusing to use public money to subsidize stadium construction and that we did not capitulate to (the NFL’s) unreasonable and unnecessary demand that we choose between our football and baseball franchises,” Mayor Schaaf said in a statement Monday.
Since 1995, when the Rams and Raiders moved to St. Louis and Oakland, respectively, from Los Angeles, over 20 NFL franchises have built or renovated stadiums using over $5 billion in taxpayer dollars.
The San Diego Chargers most recently announced in January their move to Carson, Calif., where the team will temporarily play in a 30,000 seat soccer stadium while a state-of-the-art $2.6 billion football facility is being built in Inglewood, approximately three miles from Los Angeles International Airport. The announcement came two months after voters in San Diego rejected a ballot initiative that proposed raising local taxes to finance a $1.8 billion stadium project for the Chargers.
While San Diego may be saying “good riddance” to their professional football team, Oakland and Alameda County officials have already started to discuss the possibility of bringing a lawsuit against Raiders’ owner Mark Davis and the NFL for negotiating the stadium deal in bad faith, using Las Vegas as leverage against the Bay Area to get public financing.
City Council President and Oakland Coliseum Authority Chairman Larry Reid is even threatening legal action to void the Raiders current stadium contract and evict the team while their future home in Sin City is being built.
“If in fact the Raiders do continue to play at the Coliseum, I hope they play to a crowd of maybe two or three people or no people at all,” Reid said.
Alameda County and the city of Oakland still owe a combined $83 million for upgrades to the Coliseum that lured the Raiders back to northern California in the mid-1990s after more than a decade in Los Angeles.
“Every year we cut a check out of our general fund — money that could be used for any city service goes to pay for that construction bill,” Mayor Schaaf acknowledged.
[ESPN] [AP via Sacramento Bee] [The Guardian] [San Francisco Chronicle] [Photo courtesy Kirby Lee/USA Today via Mile High Report]