What once seemed like merely a dream for Las Vegas sports fans has now become a reality: the Raiders are packing up and leaving Oakland for Sin City.
The official news came mere days ago, after a saga of hopeful, but inconclusive, news. To recap: in January of 2016, Raiders owner Mark Davis met with Sands Corp. President Sheldon Adelson, fueling rumors of a move to Las Vegas. However, the Raiders—whose lease expired in Oakland in 2016 and who opted to extend it through the 2016 season—were keeping their options open: they considered moving to several new locales, including: San Diego, San Antonio, and Los Angeles.
Las Vegas has long hoped for a professional sports team to call its own. However, a range of concerns — including local fans who might have to work during Sunday games and the already vast number of entertainment options in Las Vegas — kept any prospective options away. Now, the wait is finally over.
After Davis and Adelson met, other bits of news kept the hopes of Vegas residents alive. In June, four potential locations for a stadium were solidified; in August, the Raiders filed for a “Las Vegas Raiders” trademark. However, it wasn’t until Monday, March 27, 2017 that NFL owners officially voted to approve the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas.
The newly minted Las Vegas Raiders will take the field in their own $1.9 billion stadium in Nevada in 2020. Of course, that’s several years from now, and the Raiders must play three seasons between now and that debut. Early reports stated that the team would play the 2017 and 2018 seasons in their current home, with the team’s home location for the 2019 season up in the air. However, there is a chance Raiders may be forced to leave the Oakland Coliseum before that time, which would put the team’s next two years in limbo.
In classic Vegas fashion, the Las Vegas Review Journal handicapped the odds of other various locations for the team’s next three seasons. These include UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium, as well as others in San Antonio, and several California options. While UNLV’s stadium does leave some things to be desired, it may be worth it for all parties involved to make some updates to that stadium, and cement the Raiders’ presence in Las Vegas right away.
Regardless, by 2020, the team is set to be playing in a 65,000-seat stadium of their own. Kansas City’s Manica Architecture is designing the domed structure, which will boast a natural field, as well as a practice field. The translucent roof will be retractable, and glass walls will slide for open-air ventilation. Oh, and there will be a view of the Las Vegas Strip, of course!
Regardless of the many details about the Raiders’ move that are still up in the air, one thing matters: they are moving to Las Vegas. In 2020—if not earlier—the city can unite in rooting for their first, professional home team. And who knows? Maybe once the stadium is built, the city can set its sights on hosting the Super Bowl.