Raiders owner Mark Davis wants to move his team to Las Vegas, and Nevada is willing to spend taxpayer dollars to build the team a stadium. But it’s not a done deal as far as the league is concerned.
NFL rules say 24 of the 32 owners must approve any franchise move, and an unnamed “high-ranking official with one NFL team” told Mark Maske of the Washington Post that there doesn’t appear to be even majority support for the move, let alone three-fourths majority. The reason for that is less about the status of Las Vegas as America’s capital of sports gambling, and more about the fact that there are fewer television households in the Las Vegas metropolitan area than there are in the Bay Area.
“I think in general we don’t like to leave big markets for small markets,” that source said. “That’s as big as anything. I think most people are not crazy about that. . . . Most of us would prefer they stay in Oakland. If that’s not possible and we get to January and the Las Vegas deal is all there is, we’ll have to consider it.”
Of course, it says something that this high-ranking team official didn’t feel comfortable enough to put his name behind his belief that the Raiders should stay put. Meanwhile, influential people within the league like Cowboys owner Jerry Jones are willing to put their names behind their belief that a Raiders move to Las Vegas would benefit both the team and the league.
It could be that the opposition within the league is more about leveraging Davis into agreeing to pay an exorbitant relocation fee to avoid a fight. Rams owner Stan Kroenke reportedly paid $550 million, or about $18 million to each of his 31 fellow owners, to get them to agree to let him move from St. Louis to Los Angeles. Davis doesn’t have as much money as Kroenke and may be trying to negotiate a less expensive relocation fee, and owners who don’t want to let Davis off that easily could threaten to keep him from moving at all.
The flip side is that if Davis can’t get 23 other owners to support his move, he can try to move without permission, as his father once did. That could make for an ugly fight within the league, one that will surely include more reports quoting more unnamed sources on both sides of the issue.