Is the NFL ready for Las Vegas? It better be.
The Raiders will file relocation papers to move from Oakland to Las Vegas, according to sources familiar with their thinking. After a year of planning, debate, and bold action, after many years of a sub-par stadium option in Oakland, the Raiders have made a firm decision on their future.
The stunning move, one that should be made official in the coming days, is expected to add a new city to the NFL's ever-changing landscape. The Raiders would need 24 votes from the league's owners to formally make the move, a vote that will come this spring.
The city of Oakland has made no progress to keep the team, sources say. It has not come up with a stadium proposal that league or independent sources believe is credible. At this point, it is only a matter of time before they officially leave.
This decision comes on the heels of -- but not directly related to -- the Chargers' swift move from San Diego to Los Angeles.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said "if the (Raiders) decide that they can't make it work in Oakland and they decide that they want to file for relocation, then their window is from when they get eliminated from the playoffs to Feb. 15." They will file before that window closes.
There are still questions, including whether or not the Raiders do the deal for the $1.9 billion Las Vegas Stadium project with the help of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson or not. That was the original plan -- the Adelson family would contribute $650 million, the Raiders would contribute $500 million, and there would be $750 million in Clark County hotel room tax revenue. They have not yet come to terms.
Earlier in December, the Raiders presented a plan to NFL owners to finance the stadium with the help from Goldman Sachs advisors. Either option would work.
But the Raiders do hold the Adelson family in the highest regard for everything they've done to advance the project, and it would not be where it is without the family's help. The Raiders would acknowledge that.
When the Raiders officially file, the league and its owners will begin a process that should take several weeks. The membership just went through a similar process before the Rams moved to Los Angeles and this one will be familiar.
The filing would include a statement explaining the Raiders' decision, then potentially words from Goodell. There would be committee meetings to analyze the move from all sides, then a vote of all the owners. Between the analysis, vetting, and discussion, it's likely it would take about 4-6 weeks.
That would set up a vote of the owners to send the Raiders to Vegas during the late-March league meetings in Arizona -- with 24 votes needing to pass. The other option would be to call a special league meeting, which doesn't appear likely.
As for the support from the room of owners, it's described as making progress and gathering momentum. There isn't nearly the opposition some anticipated originally. And it continues to build, with some of the most prominent owners vocally in favor of it.
No sources would estimate a vote count, but it's headed in the right direction.
Raiders owner Mark Davis has said publicly that even if the team moves, he plans on playing for the next couple seasons in Oakland while his new stadium is built. After that, pending the vote from the owners, it's off to Vegas, baby. Vegas.