It was just a few months ago when the Raiders were within a few owner votes of moving to Los Angeles. With that door shut (though not locked), Mark Davis opened a window to Las Vegas. And the longer there is no movement form Oakland, the greater the likelihood the Raiders could again be in position to skip town.
Initially when Davis began flirtations with Sin City, it seemed like he was simply clinging to whatever leverage he could muster up to get Oakland to put forth a viable effort to keep the Raiders in town. But now, this thing is picking up steam and is quickly looking like a real possibility.
Davis appeared in front of a Las Vegas committee a less than two weeks ago and told them that he is committed to Las Vegas if the finances can be approved, offering up $500 million of his own money with Las Vegas Sands and Majestic Realty kicking in another $150 million toward the expected $1.4 billion stadium.
Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman takes him at his word, telling ESPN radio's Capital Games podcast; "Mark Davis has assured us Las Vegas is not getting played in a Raiders stadium deal. I know we will have a team."
She went on to say "The Raiders will come if Nevada handles this properly."
One issue I see right off the top of all this is the amount of money being put up by Davis and Sands owner Sheldon Adelson putting up versus what would be needed from hotel taxes. We're talking upwards of $750 million in hotel room taxes, which, if you've ever been to Vegas, are already considerably high as it is. And with Adelson worth nearly $30 billion, his offer of $150 million is a pittance.
Then there's, of course, the issue of whether the NFL owners would approve the move, which also appears to be looking more like a possibility than once thought.
"I think it would be a tough sell, but I don't think it's impossible," one influential NFL owner told the New York Daily News. "If they put such a good deal in front of the Raiders, it has a chance of getting support. I would prefer not to have the Raiders there. I would prefer they stay where they are. Oakland is a great market, but if there is no opportunity to put a stadium there, it would be hard to blame them for moving. I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to it if it's the best alternative. If it's between Las Vegas and being stuck in an awful stadium, there is nowhere else to go."
As we discovered during the voting for the LA stadium plans, ‘influential owners' can swing the entire vote. Jerry Jones was the major influence in that vote which added a third stadium option that wasn't initially part of the voting that ultimately put the Rams in LA with the Chargers option to join them.
What this owner said was not unlike what commissioner Roger Goodell said this offseason. He would like the Raiders to stay in Oakland, but if they find no viable option there, they would have to consider the possibility of allowing them to move elsewhere, including Las Vegas.
The gambling, of course, is the main concern. Then again, if you consider the ties the league has with Daily Fantasy companies like Draft Kings and FanDuel, you can see how blurred that line is already. The league is also now up to putting several games internationally in London as well as Mexico, where gambling is legal. As it happens, the Raiders play in Mexico City this year and played in London two seasons ago.
With this softened stance on gambling and playing in cities that allow it, the Raiders have a case for the league owners not to vote them out of a possible move a second time. Not to mention, if you consider Stan Kroenke (Rams) and Dean Spanos (Chargers) would rather the Raiders not move back to Southern California and Jerry Jones (Cowboys) and Bob McNair (Texans) would rather not test fate and end up looking at sharing a state with the Raiders (San Antonio), and you could see why they might be keen on sending them to a new market if Oakland is not option. That's four pretty influential owners right there.
We kept expecting some kind of ‘11th hour' push by Oakland to keep the Raiders from heading to LA that never materialized. At this point what's there to offer any hope they will give the Davis or any of the 32 owners reason to vote to keep the Raiders from leaving again?