Raiders move to Vegas takes big step forward after key NFL committee meeting

With Bank of America on board as a lender for the Raiders’ stadium project in Las Vegas, the NFL finally seems sold on letting the team move to Southern Nevada. 

According to NFL.com, the league’s joint committee is expected to recommend the Raiders’ relocation proposal to the NFL’s 32 owners when they get together for their annual meeting, which runs March 26-29 in Phoenix. 

The recommendation would pave the way for a vote to be taken at the meeting, and if that happens, the Raiders would just need a “yes” vote from 24 of the NFL’s 32 owners to secure their move to Las Vegas. 

If you’re a Raiders fan hoping that the team stays in Oakland, there is one small upside: The last time the joint committee made a recommendation that involved the Raiders, the team didn’t move anywhere.

In January 2016, the committee voted 5-1 to recommend that the NFL’s 32 owners approve the Raiders and Chargers for a move to Carson, California. Instead, owners shot down that plan and decided to go with the Rams’ plan, which involved a new stadium in Inglewood, California. 

Unlike last year, though, the Raiders have two huge things going for them: They’re not competing with any other teams and they have $750 million in public funding waiting for them in Las Vegas.

It would be a huge surprise to see the league’s 32 owners vote down a plan that involves $750 million in free money. 

Six weeks ago, the Raiders’ plan for relocation looked dead after billionaire Sheldon Adelson backed out of the $1.9 billion project

The billionaire casino mogul was expected to contribute as much as $650 million to the Vegas stadium project, with the rest of the funding scheduled to come from the Raiders and the NFL ($500 million), along with a tax increase on Vegas hotels ($750 million).

When Adelson backed out, it wasn’t clear how the Raiders would fund his $650 million portion, but they answered that question on Monday during a presentation to the NFL joint committee. In the presentation, the team revealed that Bank of America would fund the missing $650 million. 

Although that’s a lot of debt, NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman said that that league feels comfortable with the Raiders’ financing plan. 

“Bank of America is a very well known as respected lender to the sports industry,” Grubman said in an email to NFL.com

If the Raiders are approved for relocation later this month, don’t look for them to move to Vegas right away. 

The Raiders signed a new lease with Oakland in March 2016 that includes team options for both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, meaning the Raiders can stay in Oakland for both of those seasons if they think that makes sense. 

As of right now, owner Mark Davis plans to play out the team’s lease in Oakland. 

“We want to bring a Super Bowl championship back to the Bay Area,” Davis told ESPN.com in October.

With the Vegas stadium expected to open in 2020, the Raiders would need to find a place to play for the 2019 season if they end up getting approved for relocation, because at that point, they might’ve worn out their welcome in Oakland.  

One other obstacle for the Raiders will be the relocation fee. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, that fee could end up being as high as $300 million.

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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