NFL votes 31-1 to move Raiders to Las Vegas in 2019, Oakland cries all the way to the bank

Well, the NFL went and did it: In a 31-1 vote (Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was the one objector), the league owners yesterday approved the relocation of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, to play in a proposed $1.9 billion stadium that will be funded with the help of $750 million in state subsidies.

This is the third NFL franchise relocation announced in the last year and change, all three involving teams that had relocation at least once before (following the Cleveland-to-Los Angeles-to-St. Louis-to-Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles-to-San Diego-to-Los Angeles Chargers). And reaction was fast and furious and in all directions at once:

  • The Raiders will remain in Oakland for at least the next two and possibly three seasons while their new Vegas stadium is being built, since UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium was deemed even more unacceptable for NFL purposes than a stadium in a city where fans will likely only show up to burn the owner in effigy. Or not show up at all: Famed Raider fan Dr. Death has already announced that he’s ditching both his Raiders gear and his Raiders season tickets, declaring, “That dysfunction, that ineptitude? That problem is no longer mine. Las Vegas, have fun with that.”
  • To have any hope of earning back that $750 million, Nevada will have to draw a stupendous number of new tourists who would come to Vegas just to see the Raiders and then stay for several days, which already looked awfully dubious. Stanford economist Roger Noll chimed in last week that there’s zero evidence for the Raiders’ economic projections, calling the stadium plan “a catenation of optimistic assumptions” for which “the probability that it could happen isn’t zero, but it is pretty close to zero. … Why would they believe a half a million who would never visit Vegas would suddenly show up because there is a football stadium?”
  • If fans don’t show up — and more to the point, if the hike in hotel taxes to pay for the stadium drives down the number of other visitors even slightly — “the money comes out of schools and buses,” notes Slate’s Henry Grabar, since part of the hotel tax currently goes to fund Nevada education and public transit programs.
  • The San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier & Ross write that the Raiders’ stay in Oakland was doomed by the city’s desire to keep the A’s, though really, more to the point is that Oakland officials didn’t want to cough up the hundreds of millions of dollars in stadium funds that Raiders owner Mark Davis was demanding (and so far A’s owner Lew Wolff has not).
  • The San Francisco Chronicle’s Kimberly Veklerov noted in an article before the vote that Oakland could end up coming out ahead financially from the Raiders’ departure, since the Coliseum Authority currently spends about $1 million more on stadium staffing and conversion of the seating bowl from baseball to football than it receives from Raiders parking, concessions, and rent.

If there’s any sense in any of this — aside from the allure of that $750 million — it’s that the Raiders will now be closer to the Southern California fan base that Davis’s father Al abandoned when he moved the team back to Oakland in 1995. Why, Las Vegas is only a four-hour drive from Los Angeles, so surely half a million people a year will make that trip, then spend the whole weekend gambling, and it won’t take away from any other trips they would have made to Vegas anyway, and oh just never mind, there is no sense in any of this other than that sweet, sweet stadium-subsidy lucre. Enjoy your Raiders (starting in 2019 or so), Las Vegas — they’re your problem now.


64 comments on “NFL votes 31-1 to move Raiders to Las Vegas in 2019, Oakland cries all the way to the bank

  1. Does no one remember how miserable the Oilers’ last couple of years in Houston were? IIRC they actually moved early because it got so bad.

    • Yeah, this seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Even if they don’t want to play at UNLV, they’d have to be better off making a deal to play elsewhere. LA might be a hard sell (since the Rams and Chargers don’t want people siphoning of that fanbase), but for 2-3 years, playing in Salt Lake City, San Diego, St. Louis, San Antonio, Austin, Montreal, Vancouver, or even London would all seem to make more sense than playing before a nearly empty home stadium.

      Also I hope the lease is such that Oakland can blow up Mt. Davis without the Raider’s permission, both out of spite, and to give A’s fans a nicer stadium.

      • Other than San Antonio non of your options make better sense than Oakland. They’ve done the math and playing in Oakland till the new place is done is more lucrative than paying unlv rent.

      • If the Chargers can play 3 years in a tiny soccer stadium, the Raiders could play 3 seasons in a larger college stadium with a handful of upgrades.

          • That’s going to be true anywhere. Is a few million dollars in upgrades worse than the potential for lame duck, low attendance seasons in Oakland?

          • Again who pays for the privilege to help a team that has no intention to become part of the community. Only an NFL thirsty city willing to sell its soul.

          • Honestly, the UNLV stadium isn’t crazy-small compared to Oakland Alameda. Oakland holds about 56K while UNLV’s can hold up to 40K. Biggest issue is probably that the Raiders are not into paying for ANYTHING so expecting them to make UNLV’s stadium NFL-ready is a non-starter.

          • Invest money in a stadium that will be torn down as soon as the other opens? And one they’d have impossible scheduling (heat related) issues for the first 2 months of each season?

            Raiders will most likely be the “home” team for a London and/or Mexico City game the next 3 seasons.

      • You can’t really play at boyd, the two preseason games and all of September its 90-105 at 3am in Vegas. So 100-115 even late in the day. It’s also smack dab in the middle of a residential area, traffic would be a disaster on Boulder hwy & Russell road. NOBODY goes to UNLV football games so that’s never been an issue. Tough sell to get people to sit in a open air stadium in 100+ temps and, you know, not die of heat stroke.

        • Oakland losses money renting to the Raiders. That wouldn’t be the case at Boyd. Therefore the Raiders will stay in Oakland until San Antonio sells its soul for the privilege of renting to the NFL.

  2. Oakland had over 8 years to get a stadium deal done……didn’t happen, stop whining now that the Raiders are going to Las Vegas $$$

  3. As a Nevadan living in Reno (8 hour drive) I am totally excited that I will get to take my undereducated children on crumbling roads to a gleaming new Raiders Stadium in Las Vegas that I won’t be able to afford seats at! Welcome to Nevada, Silver and Black, where we play Russian Roulette with our future.
    The over/under is 20 years.

    • While I agree with your point, I’m going to bet you will be able to afford tickets. Not at face value, and not in the first season, and not against the glamor teams. But you should easily be able to get discounted tickets on the secondary market for games against Cleveland, or Jacksonville, or Buffalo. Not that any of those teams are worth the 8 hour drive.

  4. OK, city managers, you’ve got a 2 team stadium proposal in front of you. You’ve got a baseball team that will sign a 40 year lease, and a football team that will sign on for 30 years in a 40 year span. Do you make the deal? That’s kind of what Oakland had and it still looks like the Colosseum was a giant money hole.

  5. Sacramento is not exactly in the middle of Raiders Territory, but it’s close enough to where I’m surprised by the subdued reaction to this vote. Few people seem to be reacting. So maybe those who go to 1 or 2 games a year will keep going to games once the team moves.

    Highway 80 between, well, San Francisco and Reno is pretty much a disaster anyway. It probably won’t take much longer to fly to Vegas.

  6. The Veklerov article is revealing. Basically, Oakland is saving money that would go to labor (concession workers, people who switch the seating between sports, etc.) and losing money that would go to owners/management (parking fees, concession & rent revenue).

    Luckily for Oakland, this is not as big a loss as a team leaving normally is because Raider fans are loyal. We won’t see a situation like Houston. Raider fans in Oakland will still patronize sports bars, buy jerseys, etc.

    • Jersey sales aren’t exactly a huge chunk of sales tax revenue anywhere so whether Raiders fans stay loyal is immaterial. And as has been shown in study after study pro sports teams don’t really bring anything to the local economy so if you count the money that would go towards a new stadium as savings Oakland will come out ahead financially.

    • Note that the executive director of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority is anxious to be rid of the Raiders:

      https://www.si.com/nfl/2017/03/29/oakland-stadium-authority-raiders

      “I would say to you with the highest level of confidence, my opinion and recommendation and that of my board members — I don’t believe there is any appetite for a third season (in Oakland),” Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority executive director Scott McKibben said to USA Today.

      “It’s actually financially to our benefit if they didn’t exercise the options and play here even in the two years they’ve got [in 2017 and 2018],” McKibben added.

  7. Reno raiders? They could move in for a year or two to build up support in the state before moving to the new stadium in Vegas. Oakland should boot them and get a deal done with the A’s asap

  8. Funniest bit I have seen yet is a video with concept art they did showing the stadium packed for a UNLV game. UNLV had one home game last season where they topped 20,000 fans. They could triple average attendance and still come nowhere near needing the third deck of that new stadium. That place will be a ghost town as soon as everybody who wants to see the new stadium has been to one game.

    • Depends on the cost of attending a UNLV game. If they jack up the prices compared to games at San Boyd, then I believe you’re correct.

      Is the current price of UNLV games reasonable?

  9. I’m a NJ born and raised Dolphin fan but I feel for the Rams, Charger and now Raiddr fans.

    Everything is good for the NFL. Of course they care nothing about money and care nothing about the loyal fans and the tax payers they screw in every city.

    Vegas doesn’t even have enough fans to fill a stadium. Yes they will pack them in the first few years but it will fizzle.

    What’s the over/under on how many Year she they stay. And then that Billion dollar tax payers money stadium will just sit there and the NFL will care less.

    I hope this bites them in the ass. Won’t matter because the make billions but it will look nice to see some crap on their face yet again.

  10. Attention Raider Fans!!!

    If any of you go to a game this upcoming year you deserve what you get. Don’t give them one red cent.

  11. What the NFL is doing is a slap to all NFL fans across the country. If you really care you would boycott the NFL. But if after CTE and the killing of 8 to 15 boys a year hasn’t moved you , you’re an NFL zombie.

  12. The Raiders are probably the only team that can make the Las Vegas football opportunity work;or and the Cowboys if they ever left Dallas. We’ve talked on this board before about Raider relocation to all points everywhere.IMHO the Santa Clara stadium was and still is the best option.Ironic isn’t it?Oakland gets the Raiders back with building Mt Davis,the team struggles,cannot sell out games,cannot broadcast home games,Mt Davis is tarped over to go back to a 54,000 seat capacity and now the Raiders want to leave.Oh,and there’s still debt left on Mt Davis.Every State,County,and City ought to think about that and decide once and for all to stop this greed in professional sports by just saying No.This is a gain for the city of Oakland except for the debt due on Mt Davis.

  13. In case you were wondering who’s up next, the NFL has already dropped some light threats on London as a destination for a team who’s city won’t throw money at them…

    http://mmqb.si.com/mmqb/2017/03/27/nfl-oakland-raiders-las-vegas-raiders-next-relocation-city-london

    “No fan or community is going to suddenly wake up and find out that their team is thinking about moving,” NFL EVP Eric Grubman said. “The precursor is an aging stadium that is not being maintained, a lack of competitiveness in that stadium as an economic engine, and nobody doing anything about it. If those things are present, the clouds are gathering, and usually people aren’t silent about it.

    “So if you look around the league, I don’t think all those things are in place in any other market. Could they be in five or 10 years? Yes. But not now, and I see no reason to suggest that’s going to happen.”

    Hey Jacksonville and Buffalo…you paying attention?

    • Jacksonville? Buffalo? Hell, in 10 years the Cardinals will be asking for a new stadium. Or at least major upgrades. For the fans, you know.

    • The logistics of a permanent team in London are still way too crazy for such a threat to be credible.

      Unlike LA–which was leveraged out for maximum advantage for two decades until finally the NFL figured there was no sense in crying wolf any longer–London really is nothing more than a paper tiger.

      • Look at the NHL map 1982-1991, with the LA Kings the only U.S. team west of the Mississippi (after the Denver & SF clubs folded). Given the number/frequency of NHL games, I think that’s arguably crazier than having an NFL team in London.

  14. I’ve never heard of a sports relocation in England. Not sure an NFL team stolen from another city would have any support. I could be wrong but I don’t believe any city in Europe has ever built a stadium for any reason outside of IOC or FIFA events.

      • Thanks. Looks like their original home got condemned for promotion to 1st division and once they got demoted they couldn’t continue to ground share. Not a typical NFL greed relocation , but a relocation non the less. Again thanks.

    • I don’t see any NFL team ever ending up in London or anywhere in Europe. While the time difference is only 5 hours from the east, that’s still significant. And I don’t see them having a real fan base over there that lasts past a honeymoon period.

      • I used to live in London. There are a LOT of American expats there. In our neighborhood, we joked there were more American accents than British.

        And whenever they held a game at Wembley, it was a big event.

        But I agree, not sure you would get much of a fan base there. Many of those going to Wembley were expats wanting to see a game, especially if their teams were playing. I am not sure how well that could be sustained during a 3-13 season when your quarterback is injured.

      • It’s the one North American sport that might be able to make it work. Standard 7pm London starts would put their home games at 2pm eastern, as you’ve suggested. You could push that back to 8pm local, or move it up to 6pm and still have reasonably compatible scheduling.

        If teams travelling to play in London did so for the game before their bye week, any jet lag or other travel related issues would be minimized (not that flying from Miami to Seattle or Boston to Phoenix doesn’t present some of the same issues). The London team would have to lump their travel schedule if they want to be part of the league… but their issues could be minimized by making 10-12 day two game road trips to the US, with a Monday or Thurs night home game the following week.

        I agree it is not likely to happen, but more because public funding will not be made available for a dedicated NFL stadium in or around London, and most existing stadia that could accommodate an NFL ‘experience’ are available for rent, not for free, with ancillary revenues going to the stadium owner, not the carpetbagger who flies in to watch his team play for 4 hours (replays!) and then flies back out again.

        • That is a good point about the stadium. In the UK the stadiums tend to be team owned. Wembley which in its new form looks and feels like a new NFL stadium is probably too big . In any event, it is owned by the English FA and I doubt they would be happy with an American football team chewing up the grass 8 games a year (they are fine with one or two and one rugby game but other than that, I doubt it).

          Other stadiums I assume could hold the match are the Olympic stadium, I would guess Emirates, and maybe Twickenham (the NFL used it last year).

          The new Tottenham ground is designed with American Football in mind and I think even has a temporary artificial turf field to keep the football teams from chewing up the soccer field.

          I think the issue with all of the though is a one – off (two -off) or limited event is fine, I am not sure they want US football chewing up those fields before a key qualifier at Wembley or an international rugby match at Twickenham. And given that the NFL likes to control the stadiums now with all the other revenue, I guess they would not want a ground share anyway

  15. And how do the Raiders come up with $350 million relocation fee? On top of the $650 BofA loan that’s a lot of debt assuming the relocation fee is paid out over time.

    http://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/03/oakland-raiders-las-vegas-move-relocation-fees-350-million

  16. Actually the A’s owner is John Fisher now Neil. Wolff sold his portion and bailed when it seemed obvious he wasn’t getting his land deal in Oakland.

  17. Isn’t it miserably hot in Vegas for most of autumn. If it’s not a domed stadium, I don’t think many tourists want to watch football in stifling heat.

  18. Today on the Raiders web site the team is already taking $100 PSL deposits so one can be in line to purchase PSL’s & season tickets.Yes,the stupid it burns.

  19. You all laugh about his, but the one time I was in Las Vegas, I realized that sue to the lack of a state of the art stadium I could not take the city seriously. Even though I was there for a conference and never left the hotel except to take a client out to dinner, the mere knowledge that the city had a modern stadium would have changed my entire perspective on the entire city. Hence, I have never been back.

    Now that a state of the art modern football stadium will be built, I may have to come back to Las Vegas. Probably not during the season and I probably would be unable to get tickets anyway, but the mere knowledge it is there will make me look at Vegas in a new light.

    The city fathers of Las Vegas have done themselves a great service!

    Now that Las Vegas has

    • I’ve been to Las Vegas twice, and nothing about the place has me taking it seriously as a city. The lack of a stadium was the least of the factors in that assessment.

      I know I sound like someone who’s bitter about losing too much money in the slots (for the record, I actually didn’t), but the place is a craphole. Its notion of “culture” is a bunch of casinos themed after places that are far more desirable than Las Vegas itself.

      Never understood the supposed “glamour” and appeal of Las Vegas, but hey, the house always wins, I suppose.

      • But you only feel that way because Las Vegas does not have state of the art sports stadium. Once it is built you should go back and just stand outside the stadium. Don’t go in or anything, just stand there,

        That will make you realize that Las Vegas is now a serious city,

  20. “if the hike in hotel taxes to pay for the stadium drives down the number of other visitors even slightly”

    That won’t happen. For one thing, this tax was raised even more than this once to fund schools and nobody ever blamed it as dampening education.

    On the other hand, greed from the hotels that are now doing things like making people pay for the self-park garage that was formerly free, and wrapping more and more mandatory (unwanted) services into a growing resort fee that allows them to market a lower room base cost on Expedia… that was going to hurt us with or without this proposal. It was only a matter of time.

    • Well, it will definitely happen *somewhat*, or else the state would just be raising the hotel tax by 50% and using the money to buy every resident a new car. Hotel use may be fairly inelastic, but everyone still has their price point where they’ll say, “Enh, I wonder what prices are like in San Diego?”

      • The joke is on them because the current casinos will go out of business and be replaced by something different. For example, they could tear down the MGM Grand in favor of the Skylark Casino while Treasure Island becomes Vikings Cove Casino and Circus Circus becomes part of the Radisson Blu Casino. The kicker is that all of them provide free parking for their casino patrons. In the end, even New York, New York is replaced.

  21. The Raiders,Rams,and Chargers all ought to be thankful that the NFL for the last 2 years has waived the 72 hour blackout rule;sell out 72 hours before kickoff or no TV.Granted last year the Raiders had a great year which resulted in tickets sold.but going forward team Raiders and team Rams have a serious problem.The Raiders ought to petition the league for one home game in Mexico City and one in London for the next 1-2 years at least.And a new stadium isn’t available for at least 3 years?What the hell was Bank of America thinking offering the Raiders a $650 million dollar loan?be careful what you wish for Mark Davis.

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