ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Yes, the Oakland Raiders' march to the desert to become the Las Vegas Raiders took another step Thursday with the 11-member Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee voting unanimously to recommend $750 million in public funding for a $1.9 billion stadium.
"We are excited," Raiders owner Mark Davis told ESPN.com. "Thank you to the SNTIC."
Davis was in the Bay Area, monitoring the meeting, while Raiders team president Marc Badain was at the meeting on the UNLV campus.
"Everybody at that table should be very proud of themselves," Badain told the meeting after the vote. "You heard Mark [Davis] say he wants to make an offer the league can't refuse. You took a big step toward that today."
But does that mean it's a done deal, that the Raiders are definitely on the move for the third time in franchise history, having left Oakland for Los Angeles in 1982 and L.A. for Oakland in 1995? Not quite. You have questions? We have some answers.
Now that the SNTIC has recommended the hotel tax to raise the $750 million, it will be forwarded to Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval by the end of the month. He then will decide whether to call a special session of the state legislature to vote on the financing plan. It is thought a vote has a better shot of passing before the Nov. 8 election; passage would put it on more of a fast track for the Raiders to formally request a move from the NFL. That, in turn, would require 24 of the 32 owners to approve during meetings in January. The Raiders have toured Reno as a potential new site for training camp, which could curry favor with northern Nevada legislators on the fence about whether to vote for the tax package for southern Nevada.
Where is the rest of the money coming from?
Davis has pledged $500 million, which includes a loan from the NFL for a new stadium, to the project; the family of Sheldon Adelson -- chairman of casino and resort outfit Las Vegas Sands Corporation -- has pledged another $650 million for the proposed 65,000-seat, domed venue, which would be shared with the UNLV football team. Davis has said he'd like a natural-grass playing surface, which would be possible with a clear roof and retractable sides to allow an open-air feel.
Where would the stadium be in Las Vegas?
There are two sites in play, almost across the street from each other, in the southern part of town. One is at the current location of the Bali Hai Golf Club, just south of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, on the east side of Interstate 15 coming into town on Las Vegas Boulevard and across the street from McCarran International Airport. But while the area is about 140 acres, nearly 40 acres are unusable due to being directly in line of airport runways. The other spot, a 62-acre plot of empty land, is west of Mandalay Bay, across I-15 on Russell Road, and is thought to be the favorite. The northern part of Bali Hai could conceivably be in play here as part of the Raiders game-day experience when it comes to parking and tailgating, a big factor and need for Davis. Still, a bridge or tunnel would need to be built over or under the freeway. A Las Vegas source noted, though, that neither site has been given formal clearance by the Federal Aviation Administration.
If this gets cleared and the owners vote in January to allow the Raiders to move, where would they play in 2017?
Oakland. Yes, that's the plan. Even as lame ducks, so to speak. The Raiders have one-year options for the Oakland Coliseum in 2017 and 2018 and plan to use them if and when the stadium is being built in Las Vegas before moving for good in 2019. If that seems strange, well ... Oakland fans would be upset, no doubt, but would it get as ugly as it did in Cleveland in 1995, when Art Modell announced he would move his franchise to Baltimore?
When the Raiders had plans to join the Chargers in Los Angeles before the Rams were given the green light in January, the Raiders aimed to move immediately, playing home games in the 27,000-seat StubHub Center in Carson while the joint Raiders-Chargers stadium was being built. UNLV's Sam Boyd Stadium, which was built in 1971, seats 35,000, has antiquated locker rooms and is on the far eastern edge of the city, some nine miles from campus. And while the capacity could be bumped up to 40,000 and the venue could conceivably host the Raiders, the team would more likely play one exhibition game a year there instead. Sam Boyd might be better suited as a site for team headquarters and practice facility. Then again, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who pitched the downtown Cashman Center as a stadium site, might like to see team headquarters there as a consolation prize.
Is Oakland done?
Not quite. The Raiders have said they have grown weary of trying during the past eight years to get a deal done in their ancestral home, so Las Vegas came into focus as they examined other options, as the NFL allowed. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf released a statement Thursday night, which read in part, per CSN Bay Area, "There is a long and complicated history between this team and this city. ... We've learned from the mistakes of the past and we won't repeat them. ... Oakland is neither rolling over, nor giving up. ... Now is the time for everyone in our region to pull together to show the NFL and the Raiders that their future is in Oakland." Keep in mind, the Raiders still have a card to play in Los Angeles, because should the Chargers get a new stadium in San Diego, the Raiders then would have the option of joining the Rams in Inglewood.