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With Las Vegas stadium bill signed, Mark Davis makes pitch to NFL owners

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The stadium deal is done in Las Vegas, leaving just the NFL approval as the final hurdle for a potential Raiders move to Sin City.

This week, the expected stroke of the pen of Nevada governor Brian Sandoval was given and the Las Vegas stadium funding bill became official. The bill approves $750 million in tax revenue be allocated to the construction of a $1.9 billion football venue in Las Vegas.

This is the deal Mark Davis had said that if it came to pass, he was committed to moving the Raiders to Las Vegas to inhabit the stadium as its primary tenant.

“Nevada has shown the nation and the world that Las Vegas is ready for the NFL,” Sandoval said Monday to a cheering crowd. Then turned to Mark Davis, “We are handing the ball off to you and we wish you good luck tomorrow as you meet with the other (NFL) owners in Texas.”

The next step is the final step; to get the approval of at least the 24 of the NFL’s 32 owners on the team relocating to Sin City.

Several NFL owners have at some point given their blessing on the Raiders moving to Vegas. Jerry Jones, John Mara, and Robert Kraft chief among them.

Jones, as we know, is quite influential among the NFL owners. It was Jones who introduced the alternate plan for Los Angeles aside from the two that were originally presented. His alternate plan was the one that was ultimately approved which put the Rams in Inglewood with the Chargers breaking their Carson pact with the Raiders and instead given the option to join the Rams. An option that is still on the table should the Chargers be unable to get a new stadium built in San Diego.

This week, Jones reiterated his support for the Raiders relocating to Las Vegas.

“I would say, ‘Amen,’ ” Jones told reporters during the NFL meetings Tuesday. “Steve [Wynn] is a valued friend and Sheldon [Adelson] is as well. I admire Jim [Murren] and what they do with MGM and I just admire what Nevada, Las Vegas is about.

“It’s a compliment to the NFL that they’re considering supporting a team. And so, I think it’s a great opportunity for everybody concerned, and I’m looking forward to the future.”

His support doesn’t automatically mean this process will be a smooth one. The fact that Sheldon Adelson and Las Vegas Sands owns several casinos in Vegas and would have a heavy financial investment in the project – as much as $650 million -- could raise some concerns among owners as well as the commissioner.

The connection to gambling and casinos may be inevitable in a city which is built on it. Which leads us to another issue altogether; is the market big enough? It’s certainly not bigger than the market the Raiders currently inhabit in the Bay Area. That, ultimately, could play a major role in owner approval.

“I think in general we don’t like to leave big markets for small markets,” a high-ranking official with one NFL team told the Washington Post. “That’s as big as anything. I think most people are not crazy about that.”

It will be up to Mark Davis -- who is at the owners meetings in Houston this week -- to attempt to ease those fears and sell Vegas as a market the NFL should be eager to broach.

There won’t be any decisions made this week. In fact, it may be that a vote wouldn’t take place until March of 2017.

The league had already approved the Raiders for relocation from Oakland earlier this year when they were attempting to head to LA. The only way that part of the equation wouldn’t still stand is if there were movements in Oakland that changed the viability of a stadium solution there.

With the Raiders not able to even apply for relocation until after the season, it’s very possible the situation in Oakland may have improved by then.

An investment group headed by former Raiders and 49ers safety Ronnie Lott has been moving forward on attempts to purchase the land on which the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum sits in an attempt to find a way to keep the Raiders in Oakland. And this week former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo also came into the picture. It is thought he too is looking into purchasing the current stadium and the land on which it sits.

So, here we are, not a year later, with an NFL owners vote standing between the Raiders staying in Oakland or seeking their fortune (a new stadium) elsewhere.