You can always rely on the much-loved NFL Commissioner to spoil a party. So it should not come as any surprise to those of us hoping for a Raiders move to Las Vegas that Roger Goodell poured cold water on the project.
Speaking at the NFL Fall meeting in Houston, he said the league had ‘miles’ to go’ before it would give the go-ahead for a franchise move to Vegas, and he wasn’t talking about the 410 miles separating the two locations. “There’s still a lot of information we need to gather,” Goodell said to reporters, “We need to study everything necessary for the long-term health of an NFL franchise. Like is there a fan base there? Is the stadium economics and fan experience at the level that we need? What is the impact on NFL policies?” He went on to refer to evaluation groups, surveys and a plethora of other stalling techniques beloved of grey-man committees up and down the land.
At least Goodell didn’t flatly rule out a move and even suggested The Membership vote might be more important than his own opinions.
Meanwhile, Mark Davis has been reassuring Nevada State Governor Brian Sandoval that he wasn’t using the possibility of a Vegas move as leverage for a better deal elsewhere. “If they come up with what we’re talking about, we’re gonna move to Las Vegas,” said Davis.
The raiders are now only a step away from moving to Las Vegas after the Nevada assembly officially approved $750million of public funding for a new stadium. This comes a few weeks after the Nevada oversight committee recommended the public spending in a unanimous vote, and the assembly approved the spending with a surprisingly one-sided vote of 28 in favour and only 13 against.
Still, the whole process can be stopped in its tracks by a governor veto, but that doesn’t look likely to happen as reports indicate there will be a public bill signing coming very soon. If this stage is passed there will be only one final hurdle to negotiate; the NFL owners vote. Of the 32 owners, 24 must vote in favour of the move. This does represent a very high percentage, but one that is not out of the question if some opinions to be believed.
The team could well still stay in California, but at present there is no concrete plan for a new stadium to be built in the area. With no commitment from Oakland to spend public money on a new stadium for the Raiders, its looking ever increasingly like the best move will be to jump ship and move to the city that never sleeps. A reminder sits in the memories of some tax payers in the bay area from the last time the stadium was renovated, as they are still paying off the $180million Coliseum rebuild from the 1990s. So why would they want to contribute more for more uncertainty in the team’s stadium in a few years time?
The destiny of the Raiders is still up in the air, despite all the positive steps regarding the proposed new stadium. All we know is the annual league owners meeting just became a huge focal point for the offseason.