Sports

Momentum growing within NFL for Raiders’ move to Vegas; Chargers’ fate still uncertain

By Mark Maske

January 10, 2017 at 10:07 PM

Owner Mark Davis and the Raiders could be Vegas-bound (John Locher/Associated Press)

There is a growing belief within the NFL that owners will support a move by the Raiders from Oakland to Las Vegas, according to several people familiar with the league’s inner workings.

Owners are to focus primarily on the Raiders’ situation during a meeting Wednesday in New York of the NFL’s stadium and finance committees, those people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic.

Little attention likely is to be given Wednesday, they said, to Sunday’s looming deadline for the Chargers to exercise their option to leave San Diego and join the Rams in Los Angeles. NFL officials remain in conversations with Dean Spanos, the chairman of the Chargers, but they have not been given a decision by Spanos, according to one person with knowledge of the deliberations.

There is less urgency for the owners to act in the Raiders’ case, given that owner Mark Davis has said he would keep the team in Oakland while a new stadium was built in Las Vegas. But Davis does appear to be winning support from the owners for his plan to relocate his franchise to Nevada.

“I do think the Raiders will end up in Vegas,” a high-ranking official with an NFL team said.

Davis is expected to address other owners at Wednesday’s meeting. Davis is not likely to submit a formal relocation application at this meeting, a person close to the situation said. The Raiders are free to submit such an application now that their season has ended with last weekend’s playoff loss to the Houston Texans. But that is a mere formality at this point. Davis has said repeatedly that he plans to take his team to Vegas.

Such a move would have to be ratified by at least 24 of the 32 owners. People within the league have said in recent months that some owners have concerns about the size of the Vegas market and the involvement of casino mogul Sheldon Adelson in the deal.

But they also have said that the owners would be likely to support Davis if it becomes clear that keeping the team in Oakland is not a viable option in the view of the league and the owners. Officials in Oakland largely have dealt with an investment group including Pro Football Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, rather than with Davis and the Raiders directly, in their efforts to strike a stadium deal to keep the team in Oakland.

The owners potentially could vote on a Raiders’ move to Vegas as soon as March, at the annual league meeting in Phoenix.

No further vote of the owners is needed for the Chargers to move to L.A. The approval vote took place last year when the owners granted the Chargers the option to join the Rams at their new stadium in Inglewood, Calif., that now is under construction. The owners last month approved the lease deal between the Chargers and Rams and granted the Chargers a waiver that would enable them to finance a portion of a prospective L.A. relocation fee.

Related: NFL owners approve measures related to possible L.A. move by Chargers

The Chargers do not intend to seek an extension of Sunday’s deadline, according to one person close to the situation. That person added, however, that it’s possible a decision would not be announced until Tuesday, given the long holiday weekend. It’s also possible that the league could intervene to extend the deadline.

There has been a strong belief within the league recently that the Chargers likely are headed to L.A. Voters in San Diego overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure in November for public funding for a new stadium there. There also has been ongoing speculation that the league might come up with some creative financing measures to attempt to help the Chargers to stay put, and those who know Spanos say it would be a difficult and emotional decision for him to move the team. But it also might end up being the only decision that makes sense financially, they say.


Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.

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