No sooner did 31 NFL owners approve the Raiders relocation to Las Vegas but the team got the ball rolling to get the stadium construction moving forward.
As of now, the focus is on the Russell Road site, west of I-15, southwest of the strip. That’s the location the Raiders prefer and the one you see showcased in all the renderings.
Before the Raiders purchase the site, several tests must be conducted to see first if it’s a viable site and second, what the cost of construction will be.
To figure these things out, they are taking core samples. They need to see what the ground is like below the surface so there are no surprises if/when they dig down into it.
“It’s due diligence on the land,” Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak told the Las Vegas Sun. “They got to check the development cost, and that is going to be directly attributed to what they run into. If there’s caliche (a sedimentary rock), it’s going to cost a lot more. If you buy the property assuming you’re not going to get any caliche and you hit some 4 feet down, you’re spending millions of dollars to take that out of there.”
Sisolak added that there are fault lines on the property, but insisted they were “not an issue”, noting that the Mandalay Bay Convention Center is also built on fault lines. But it is still something that must be studied.
The Raiders currently have an option to buy the land, and should everything check out, they can then purchase the 62-acre vacant lot.
In order to get the stadium up and running by the 2020 season, ground must be broken by December of this year.
“It’s a tight timeline — 32 months. Backing away from August 2020, that gets us until December of this year to break ground,” said Sisolak. “By the end of the year we’ve got to have them out there getting to work on the property. They know that and they're committed to that, and they got to take it step by step.”
The next key date is April 20, which is when the Las Vegas Stadium Authority will meet. There are a whole host of things the Raiders hope to have completed by that meeting, but it is uncertain if they will have them completed by then.
Once the land is purchased, the Raiders must file paperwork with the FAA and that must be completed at least 45 days ahead of time.
While all this is going on in Vegas, there’s another big question...
Where will the Raiders be playing until then?
Mark Davis said he would like to play in Oakland the next two years at least, and possibly three. But Oakland City Councilman, Larry Reid, has other ideas. He wants them gone now.
“I don’t want them here,” Reid told the East Bay Times immediately following the owners vote. “They can go down to Santa Clara and play.”
Reid is, of course, talking about having the Raiders share Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers which isn’t any better from the awkward fan perspective. It’s just a bit less convenient for the Raiders.
Even with Reid’s words, it doesn’t appear as if the Raiders are going to be packing up and leaving immediately. They are committed to playing in Oakland at least for 2017. From there it’s ‘we’ll see.’
If the Raiders are shunned this season and decide they want to get out of town before next season, the most logical option would figure to be Sam Boyd Stadium where the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) plays its games.
Davis has said he would like to play a preseason game at Sam Boyd in 2018, but not make it the team’s temporary home. Currently the seating capacity is 35K, but it has in the past fit as many as 42K, which is some 11K less seats than the Oakland Coliseum (with tarps on Mount Davis) which has sold out games for several seasons.
Playing games at the 35-42K seat stadium would not be unlike the Chargers playing at the 30K seat StubHub Center until their shared palace in Inglewood opens two seasons from now. The difference being, StubHub is a relatively new stadium (2003) and Sam Boyd is 46 years old, so some work would probably need to be done to make it suitable for NFL play.
The final option would have the Raiders going full-on nomadic — San Antonio.
Playing in the Alamo Dome is an option teams have utilized in the past as a temporary home — the Saints played there after Hurricane Katrina until the Superdome was revitalized. And simply moving to San Antonio altogether has been on the table for some time.
A few months ago Raiders Hall of Fame receiver Tim Brown floated the idea again should Las Vegas not work out and the Raiders were still in need of an option outside of Oakland.
So, in the next three seasons, the Raiders could play in Oakland the entire time or do a stadium tour season by season from Santa Clara to San Antonio, to Las Vegas before their new stadium opens. And keeping it at three seasons depends on keeping to their strict timetable.