Just as he had with his intentions to move the Raiders to Los Angeles earlier this year, Mark Davis is now full speed ahead to move the team to Las Vegas.
He met with the owners today in Houston for the first time since the stadium funding bill passed and was signed off by Nevada governor Brian Sandoval. After which, he spoke to the media about his intentions and why he isn’t changing course to return to Oakland.
"Oakland was in the driver's seat if they could've put together anything," Davis said Wednesday. "They came up with nothing.
"Las Vegas has already done what it is supposed to do and we have to bring it up to the National Football League and get permission to move to Las Vegas."
Davis claims to have legitimate reason to turn away the city of Oakland. He says his dealings with LA and now Vegas have never been about leverage or playing sides against each other. Just that Oakland didn’t hold up their end.
“Oakland at that time had the opportunity – they were really negotiating against themselves, and they really didn't want to do anything,” Davis told USA Today. “They gave a five-page letter as their offer to the NFL, and we ended up losing the vote to go [to L.A.], and they sent us back [to Oakland] to get something done. We got a one-year lease with two one-year options, and I had a press conference and talked then about moving into the future. A week later, I got a call from one of the board of supervisors, said, 'Mark, sorry, but the deal that we negotiated with you is off. We've got to raise the rent and we're raising it three times.'
“Unfortunately, it just showed disrespect to the Raider organization and maybe just a little bit of false leverage on their part or whatever. So, we have the one-year lease with the two one-year options, and we'll probably play that out. But then we had to go look for a real home, and Nevada came through.”
Should the stadium in Vegas be approved by the owners, Davis still plans on the Raiders playing games in Oakland until it is ready; which could be as much as three years. He said today he doesn’t envision a “scorched earth policy” from the fans in Oakland. But if he keeps throwing around words like “real home” with regard to Vegas, the fans aren’t going to take too kindly to that. The concept of continuing to play in a city a team is about to abandon is already unusual enough as it is.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Today’s meeting with the owners was the start of a long process in convincing the league that Vegas should be the Raiders’ new home.
Vegas is a threat to take the Raiders, more so than LA was simply because they aren’t competing with major money as they were with Stan Kroenke and the Rams. This time the money is on their side. The league just has to decide if they’re comfortable with how that money is made (gambling) and if there’s more to be made in Vegas than in the Bay Area.
The latter will only be a factor in the discussion if Oakland can make a late push to put together a stadium plan.