By now, it’s pretty clear to even the most casual of NFL observers that the Oakland Raiders long-term future in Northern California is up in the air.
This was made perfectly clear when Raiders owner Mark Davis pushed to move the team to Los Angeles before the NFL itself opted to approve the Rams relocation to Southern California earlier this year.
With Los Angeles still not completely off the table for the Raiders and Las Vegas becoming a real possibility, there’s now a growing sense that the team simply doesn’t have a long-term future in Oakland.
This sentiment was echoed by an unnamed team owner in recent comments to the Washington Post:
“A few months ago, I would have said it was highly doubtful (about a move to Vegas),” the owner said. “But if the deal we’ve read about is real, then they have a chance. [It] seems like nothing will get done in Oakland.”
There’s a lot to look at in regards to that one quote.
First off, it would have seemed unreasonable to believe that the NFL would support any team moving to Las Vegas just a few short months back.
The idea of any team working with the gambling industry to erect a stadium seemed utterly ridiculous. That was only magnified by the presence of Las Vegas Sands casino group CEO Sheldon Adelson as a primary player in building a venue in Sin City.
Not only is Adelson one of the godfathers of the gambling industry in the United States, he’s been involved in some shady dealings with some shady individuals in the past.
Though, none of this seems to be scaring off the NFL right now:
Raiders to Vegas is starting to feel more real every day. Many NFL insiders now feel it's more likely to happen than not.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) May 13, 2016
Davis has already agreed to commit $500 million to a stadium project in Vegas should it be approved by local authorities. That’s a pretty big chunk of the $1.33 billion projected price tag for the venue.
This all comes on the heels of Davis himself meeting with the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee back in April, at which point he had some interesting remarks:
“Together we can turn the Silver State into the silver and black state,” Davis said, via the Associated Press.
While local leaders in Vegas seem to be optimistic about something being worked out, the issue in Oakland continues to be funding.
Simply put, those in charge in the Northern California city are not prepared to use taxpayer dollars to help Davis and the Raiders build a new stadium.
With one of the worst venues in the professional sports world, the Raiders simply can’t be expected to sit back and continue playing at O.co with the MLB’s Oakland Athletics when other more lucrative possibilities are on the horizon.
Without a viable stadium plan in Oakland, the Raiders are going to attempt relocation at some point in the not-so-distant future. This is already a foregone conclusion. Heck, it’s happened in the recent past.
With the San Diego Chargers still deciding whether to join the Rams in Los Angeles, something could very well be coming to a head at some point soon. The Chargers have until January of 2017 to make a decision on relocation.
If they decide to stay in San Diego, that would give the Raiders an opportunity to join the Rams in Los Angeles. If not, Vegas becomes the likeliest scenario here.
All this seems to indicate that the Raiders could very well be playing their final season in Oakland this upcoming fall.