The Oakland Raiders filed relocation paperwork Thursday, signaling their intent to eventually move to Las Vegas.
Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak first announced the filing of the paperwork. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed the news, while Ian Rapoport of NFL Network noted there will likely be a vote in March on the move.
Rapoport first reported on Jan. 14 that the Raiders would take the step toward relocation when it became evident that Oakland had no plans in place to keep the team.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr expressed confusion regarding the significance of the filing Thursday:
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf issued a statement on the relocation, per Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk):
It's no surprise that the Raiders have filed for relocation. Oakland welcomes the chance to show them and the NFL's other owners why Oakland is the only home for the Raiders and always will be. Our winning team of the Lott Group, the County and my colleagues on the Oakland City Council has accomplished so much in the last few months. We've identified the mechanisms to responsibly finance public infrastructure improvements, we have in the Lott Group a private partner prepared to finance stadium construction, and we have an entitled site for a world-class NFL stadium and new development that enhances fan experience while invigorating East Oakland's economy.
But this isn't all Oakland has to offer. Oakland's Raiders stadium will be on the most transit-accessible site in the nation, in the sixth largest television market, and in one of the wealthiest and most innovative regions in the world. But above all else, Oakland has something no other city ever will — a die-hard fan base that is loyal and true to the Raiders and wants to see them stay here in Oakland where they were founded. Only Oakland brings the Raiders and the NFL a competitive stadium proposal, along with legacy and loyalty.
I look forward to the League giving our team a chance to compete.
The relocation will come to a vote during the spring, and the Raiders need 24 or more owners to rule in favor of the move in order to become the Las Vegas Raiders.
Although the timeline for moving is uncertain provided it gets approved, Raiders owner Mark Davis has said he plans on continuing to play in Oakland for a couple of more seasons while a stadium is being built in Vegas, per Rapoport.
Getting a new stadium built is perhaps the biggest key to completing the deal, but the Raiders have been working closely with Las Vegas Sands Corporation CEO Sheldon Adelson on that front.
Adelson's spokesman recently told the Las Vegas Review-Journal (h/t Elliott Almond of the Mercury News) that the complex process of getting a stadium plan together was in progress: "It's a complicated negotiation and there are a lot of different details involved that we need to resolve. It's really a matter of coming up with something that works for the family, the Raiders and the NFL. Talks are ongoing."
Despite the hurdles that still exist, ESPN's Adam Schefter expressed his belief that the Raiders' moving to Las Vegas is a foregone conclusion, according to Mike & Mike:
If the NFL owners vote yes on relocation, the Raiders will become the third team to move in the past year, as the Rams went from St. Louis to Los Angeles in 2016 and the Chargers joined the Rams in L.A. from San Diego this year.
According to Benjamin Allbright of 104.7 FM in Denver, some Raiders players are already looking forward to the prospect of playing in Vegas:
Assuming the move occurs, the Raiders will become the second major professional sports franchise in Las Vegas, as the Vegas Golden Knights will begin play as an NHL expansion team in 2017-18.
The Raiders have a lengthy relocation history already, as they went from Oakland to Los Angeles in 1982 before moving back to Oakland for the 1995 season.
Nothing is official until the league vote happens, but with seemingly no plans in place to keep the team in Oakland, a third move appears to be on the horizon.
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