Say it ain't so, Joe! Sorry: The vote is in and the Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas. It was made official on Monday at the annual N.F.L. owners meetings. Held on the last week in March, thirty-two millionaires and billionaires converge at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. Behind closed doors, they wheel and deal with football fan's hearts like pieces on a chess board. Our mailbox is jammed packed...so let's get started.
Why do the Raiders owners want to move to Las Vegas? Leslie, Des Moines. Normally, teams move to larger cities to increase their fan base. Clark County Nevada is the 29th largest metro area in the USA with two million residents. The Bay Area is the 11th largest. Nope, the reason why Mark Davis is moving is he wants a new stadium. Ever since Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones built the behemoth, luxurious indoor super-stadium, all the other owners have been jealous. Other cities like Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Seattle followed the trend and have state-of-art football arenas. However, the publicly-owned Oakland Coliseum is one of the oldest in the league. And Mark Davis is tired of the other owners laughing at him about it!
Who cast the lone vote against the move? Ethan, El Cerrito. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this story is the near-unanimity of the final vote. A whopping 31 of the 32 owners approved the move. NOTE: A two-thirds vote is required for this measure. That one vote against relocation was from Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. It appears he is the only participant who cares at all about fans. "I may own the Dolphins, but the team belongs to the people of Miami." he explained. Raider fans are known for their fervor. It seems 99% of the fans at a home games don Raiders gear. ESPN Jersey Rankings has them at #2 in sales amongst all teams.
When will the move occur? Tom, San Diego. Here's the tricky part: The new, domed super-stadium in Vegas won't be completed until the year 2019. Normally, when a pro team relocates, they play a season or two in a smaller venue until construction ends. For example, the Los Angeles Rams are playing in the ancient Coliseum while the most expensive stadium EVER is being built nearby. However, there is no stadium in tiny Vegas large enough to support a pro football team. So next two seasons will still be played in Oakland. This will create a lot of tension in the stands for anyone dumb enough to wear any Las Vegas merchandise to a home game.