Raiders’ move to Las Vegas: Why (and when) Oakland’s NFL team is leaving for new stadium

USA Vegas News

The Raiders’ Thursday night home game against the Chargers in Week 10 of the 2019 regular season marks the last prime-time NFL game Oakland will host. Of course, we said the same thing toward the end of the season last year.

Yes, the Raiders are still scheduled to move to Las Vegas in 2020 and play next season’s home games at Allegiant Stadium, a 1.75 million-square-foot venue being built just off the Vegas strip. But the team’s lease with the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, from which it backed out after last season amid a federal antitrust lawsuit, had to be renewed for 2019. The Raiders had been looking for a temporary home ahead of their 2020 move to Las Vegas, and team owner Mark Davis settled on a deal to stay in Oakland for one more season.

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So, let’s clarify. We think Thursday night’s contest is the Raiders’ last prime-time game in Oakland. After all, the Raiders’ lease with the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum reportedly includes an option year for 2020 in case Allegiant Stadium is not finished in time.

We doubt that will be the case. By all accounts, progress on the Raiders’ new stadium in Las Vegas is steady. Ahead of that move, below is a refresher on why the Raiders are moving from Oakland to Las Vegas.

When do the Raiders start playing in Las Vegas?

The Raiders are scheduled to start playing at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas next season.

With that said, the target date for the new stadium’s completion is July 31, just a couple weeks before the NFL typically schedules the first week of preseason games. Any setback in construction could impact the debut of the venue in the NFL. In December, though, a Las Vegas Stadium Authority status report indicated there had been no delays in construction.

When the Raiders do play their first game in Las Vegas, it will not be the first NFL event the city will have hosted in 2020. The NFL Draft is scheduled to be held on and around the Las Vegas strip from April 23-25.

Las Vegas Stadium
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Why are the Raiders moving to Las Vegas?

This is a long story, so let’s make a long story short.

  1. The Raiders needed a new stadium in Oakland.
  2. Oakland failed to propose an adequate stadium solution.
  3. The Raiders tried to move to Los Angeles.
  4. The NFL said no to the LA move and gave Oakland its last chance.
  5. The NFL again didn’t like Oakland’s proposal.
  6. The NFL did like Las Vegas’ proposal.

Below is the longer version, an explanation the NFL released days after the Raiders’ relocation was announced in March of 2017.

“On March 27, 2017, League membership considered an application from the Oakland Raiders to relocate the club’s home territory to Las Vegas, where the club would play in a new stadium to be built through a public-private partnership.

“Under the League’s Policy and Procedures on Proposed Franchise Relocations (the “Guidelines”), the application was reviewed by the NFL Finance and Stadium Committees. Prior to the member clubs meeting to consider the application, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a report addressing the factors identified in the Guidelines as relevant to the member clubs’ evaluation of proposed franchise relocations.

“The Commissioner and membership had found in 2016, in the context of considering an application by the Raiders to relocate to Los Angeles, that the Raiders’ current home stadium is not adequate for NFL football, and must be replaced, a conclusion agreed to by the civic leadership in Oakland. Notwithstanding the established preference for clubs to continue to serve their existing fans and communities, the member clubs concluded that the Raiders should be permitted to relocate from Oakland. This conclusion has not changed in the past year. Similarly, the Raiders are not barred by the club’s current lease from relocating to another community.

“For more than a decade, the Raiders have worked diligently and in good faith to improve the club’s stadium situation in Oakland. The NFL determined not to accept relocation applications prior to the 2015 season, and the Raiders were not permitted to relocate to Los Angeles prior to the 2016 season. This gave Oakland leadership additional time to address the Raiders’ acknowledged stadium issues. The NFL emphasized that the member clubs would be unlikely to accept contingent or uncertain stadium proposals as a basis for requiring a club that otherwise qualifies for relocation to remain in its home market. The stadium proposals received from Oakland are dependent on various contingencies and involve a number of significant uncertainties that the membership concluded cannot be resolved in a reasonable time. This is true even though the League has long accepted the community’s position that it will not invest public funds into stadium construction.

“The proposal to relocate to Las Vegas involves a clearly-defined and well-financed proposal for a first-class stadium in a diverse and growing community that is well-recognized as an entertainment destination. It offers the Raiders a genuine opportunity to resolve longstanding stadium issues and is expected to provide the club with solid future prospects.

“After full consideration, the membership approved the relocation of the Raiders’ home territory to Las Vegas.”

Of the 32 NFL team owners, the Dolphins’ Stephen Ross was the only one who voted against the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas.

“We as owners and as a league owe it to the fans to do everything we can to stay in the communities that have supported us until all options have been exhausted,” Ross said.

Las Vegas Stadium
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Raiders’ stadium in Las Vegas

In August, the Raiders and Allegiant announced an agreement for the naming rights to Las Vegas Stadium, now known as Allegiant Stadium, which also will serve as the home of UNLV football.

According to The Mercury News, the $750 million in public money Davis received in Las Vegas is the most ever offered to build a professional sports stadium. In total, the cost of the new, $62,228-seat domed stadium (expandable to 72,000) in Las Vegas is a reported $1.9 billion.

As one might imagine, it’s very nice.

Last year, the Las Vegas Review Journal highlighted some of the new stadium’s features. They include:

  • High-strength, translucent, polymer ceiling that lets in natural light but keeps heat down in the summer.
  • Translucent stadium components that will make the stadium appear black during the day, but inside lights will be visible at night.
  • Ribbon structure along the sides will ventilate fresh air in, relieve exhaust and drain water from the roof.
  • Natural-grass field will grow outdoors on a 4-foot-high tray to be wheeled in for games. (Artificial-turf field will rest atop the stadium floor.)

In June, the Raiders shared a time lapse of the first 19 months of the stadium’s construction, which began in November 2017. (There’s also a live camera on the stadium as it is being built.)

Below is the team’s most recent update on the progress.

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According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which cited a team representative who confirmed the pricing, Raiders fans interested in personal seat licenses for club seating at Allegiant Stadium will need to pay between $20,000 and $75,000 each. That means the franchise could “generate at least $160 million in revenue based on the estimated 8,000 club seats and VVIP club seats available” in its inaugural season, according to the price list obtained by the Review-Journal.

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