CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Raiders owner Mark Davis appears committed to moving his team from Oakland to Las Vegas, saying Tuesday that he has “given my commitment to Las Vegas, and if they can come through with what they’ve talked about doing, then we’ll go to Las Vegas.”
Davis has met with Las Vegas officials and business leaders in recent weeks in hopes of striking a deal for a new stadium. However, a league executive familiar with the machinations of franchise relocations said it was “way too premature” for a move at this point.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday it was too soon to know where the Raiders might end up playing, and there is continued hope of finding a stadium solution in Oakland.
“I think this has been a very transparent issue,” Goodell said. “We believe in that market [in Oakland]. I know Mark Davis does. But there has to be a solution that’s developed, and it’s not just on us. There has got to be a cooperative agreement to try to find that solution. We have been seeking a solution in Oakland, and it’s time to get that. We will play our part, and I know the Raiders will also.”
But Davis sounds serious about moving the team. A ploy to get Oakland officials moving? Davis said that’s not the case.
“I’m excited about it,” he said. “[Las Vegas] has the potential to be a really exciting market. The Raider fans in Northern California get upset a little bit when we talk about going to Los Angeles, and the L.A. fans get a little ticked off at the fans in Northern California, so it seems like Las Vegas is a neutral site that everybody’s kind of bought into. It will unite the Raider nation more than divide it.”
But Davis said “no” when asked if he has given up on keeping the team in Oakland.
League owners have long resisted a franchise relocating to Las Vegas or placing an expansion team there because of concerns about the gambling industry. But that issue doesn’t seem to be as pressing as in previous years, with Goodell suggesting that it is up to owners to decide whether a team should play there. In past years, Goodell and former commissioners Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue have publicly shunned the idea of an NFL team in Las Vegas.