While we're all here wondering if the Raiders would gain approval to become the first professional sports franchise in Las Vegas, the NHL swooped in and did it, announcing today they would be expanding to 31 teams and that new team will be playing in Las Vegas starting in the 2017-18 season.
What exactly this means for the Raiders is debatable.
First and foremost it clears away any notion that Vegas is not a viable place for a professional franchise. Whether it be the market itself or the legal gambling aspect that is omnipresent.
In that respect, this move by the NHL could be just what Mark Davis would need to gain approval from the league owners as they would have one less argument they could use against it.
What was a threat that was already gaining some respect, just got even more serious.
There is a potential other side to this, however. Thus far Las Vegas has been crazy for the Raiders. Now with the NHL coming to down, it is no longer a virgin market starved for a professional team. In other words, they are no longer in desperate times and therefore have no need to take desperate measures.
And there are other questions that remain.
The biggest question could be whether financing would be approved for the Raiders proposed new $1.5 billion stadium. Currently the plan has the city forking over about half the cost through additional hotel room taxes. Those who oppose the plan say they would prefer that money be used on a much needed new convention center. Those voices of opposition could get louder with the city landing the professional team they wanted.
While the NFL owners won't be able to wage the argument that Sin City is no place for a professional franchise, they could opt instead for saying the market just isn't big enough to support two professional teams. That last argument gains more steam with the fact that Roger Goodell has made it very clear several times he would prefer the Raiders remain in Oakland; including encouraging mayor Libby Schaaf to meet with a new development group led by Hall of Fame former Raider, Ronnie Lott.
Also, even with Goodell's loosened stance on playing in Vegas and gambling in general (Daily Fantasy Leagues), there is still a far greater concern about gambling with the NFL than with the NHL.
Even as recent as last summer, the NFL barred players from attending a fantasy football convention that was set up by Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. If that's where Goodell still stands, he could ultimately hold sway over owners to vote against approving the Raiders relocation, just as he did with Los Angeles last January. And maybe even a second golden parachute incentive to stay in Oakland would be in order if that happens (it was $100 million last time).
But I wouldn't count on that.
Consider that Jerry Jones was also influential in the vote to keep the Raiders out of LA and he has said he is in favor of an NFL team moving to Vegas. Several other owners have said they would support a Raiders move to Vegas, including Robert Kraft who told USA Today Sports; "I think it would be good for the NFL. I know Mark Davis has tried so hard in Oakland. If they won't do it ... I want to support him."
Denying Mark Davis a second time and thus attempting to force him to wither on the vine in Oakland would be grounds for a pretty significant lawsuit. Or he could just plain move regardless of what the league says as his father did in the early 80s when he left Oakland for LA. No one wants either of those two options.
One thing is clear, if Oakland has anything they are withholding that could get a new stadium built, they should probably get to it. The NFL has one less objection to keep the Raiders out of Vegas.