While Raiders owner Mark Davis is speaking publicly about moving his team to Las Vegas next year as a fait accompli following a Nevada Assembly vote to fund a new stadium there, league sources maintain he still faces significant obstacles and opposition to achieve that goal. As reported weeks ago, many prominent owners and power brokers at the league office would prefer the team stay in downtown Oakland. The NFL continues to work diligently behind the scenes to find a new home for the Raiders in the Bay Area.
Davis will need 24 votes to get approval for a move, and ownership sources continue to assert that it's far from certain he will obtain that support, even with the assembly approving $750 million in public funding for the project. Many NFL execs are unwilling to give up on the booming Bay Area -- a far larger television market and a far wealthier economic market than Vegas -- and believe it is in the league's best long-term interest to remain there regardless of Davis's preferences. Davis lacks the influence and deep pockets of some other owners, and league sources noted how much the NFL controlled the process of Los Angeles relocation last year, even with Rams owner Stan Kroenke being able to finance a stadium on his own.
While the prospect of $750 million in funding certainly will hold sway with some owners, others have long believed the best case scenario for the Raiders would be to operate under other ownership, and the league displayed its willingness to fight for certain markets when it warred with Davis's father, Al, in the past.
Would Mark Davis be willing to take on the costs and rigor of such a legal battle to move his team now? Because short of getting 24 votes, that's what it would take.
NFL brass have a regular and ongoing dialogue with civic leaders in Oakland about the project, and though Davis has displayed little-to-no interest in taking part, sources said the process rolls on without him. One ownership source suggested the NFL possibly forming a trust with Oakland, similar to what the league did when Cleveland was returning as an expansion team, to oversee design and construction of a new stadium. Regardless, the NFL won't stop exploring these options just because Davis says he is moving.
"I'm not saying something like that will come together," the source said of an NFL-Oakland agreement. "But that's the preference. It's hard to ignore $750 million of public money, but they are looking long term."