Raiders owner Mark Davis made it clear to fellow owners that he intends to begin filing paperwork this year to relocate his team to Las Vegas for the 2019 season, but sources said NFL officials are in no hurry to vote on the matter. Davis will require 24 votes to move his team to Nevada after the state passed a stadium financing plan for him this month, and he would like to bring the matter to a formal vote in January, though that is far from certain at this point.
At the NFL meetings in Houston this week, Davis said he will do everything within his power to move his franchise to Vegas as soon as possible, and he has no interest in remaining in Oakland or joining the Rams in Los Angeles (he has an option to go to L.A. should the Chargers pass on their window to do so in January).
The league continues to explore several stadium options in the Bay Area, however, with commissioner Roger Goodell among those who prefer the Oakland market, sources said. Eric Grubman, the NFL executive vice president in charge of stadium issues, addressed the owners briefly during the meeting, sources said, noting the superior business and corporate infrastructure in Oakland and the growing trend of tech companies relocating from the Silicon Valley to downtown Oakland.
It was clear to other owners that Davis has some solid support for his stadium, which includes $750 million in public funding, but others are less than convinced the move would be in the best interest of the entire league. Goodell told the owners there is much the NFL still needs to investigate, both about the Vegas deal and potential deals in Oakland, before a vote on the matter should be considered.
"I would expect the league to delay any vote for as long as possible," one ownership source said. "Mark is adamant that they are gone, but the league isn't in any rush to bring this to a head."
Ownership sources pointed to Goodell's ability to rally owners' support if he believes strongly that an issue is very much in the NFL's best interests long term, and given the disparity in television markets between the Bay Area, a top-five market, and Las Vegas (40th), this is the type of matter where the commissioner's sway could be considerable.
"Even if this came to a vote early next year," one source said, "I wouldn't at all discount Roger's ability to garner 9-12 votes against [a move] if he believes firmly that Oakland is in the best interest of the league."