NFL takes Vegas gamble with approval to move Oakland Raiders, fans divided
The Raiders will become the first NFL team to be based in Las Vegas in 2020, if the move goes according to plan.
At the annual meeting of NFL club owners in Phoenix, Arizona on Monday, 31 of 32 owners backed the change of venue, with only Stephen Ross of the Miami Dolphins voting against.
The Raiders plan to play at least the next two seasons in their current home, the Oakland Coliseum, while their new $1.9-billion stadium is being built in Las Vegas
"The greatness of the Raiders is in its future."— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) 28 March 2017
- Owner Mark Davis pic.twitter.com/1iiK4lsxfi
Following the vote, Raiders' owner Mark Davis issued a statement saying he was looking forward to “the opportunity to build a world-class stadium in the entertainment capital of the world.”
“The Raiders were born in Oakland, and Oakland will always be part of our DNA. We know that some fans will be disappointed and even angry, but we hope that they do not direct that frustration to the players, coaches and staff,” the statement added.
“We plan to play at the Coliseum in 2017 and 2018, and hope to stay there as the Oakland Raiders until the new stadium opens. We would love nothing more than to bring a championship back to the Bay Area,” he said.
However, his plans to remain in Oakland in the short-term may be derailed, as it has been reported by the East Bay Times that local Councilman Larry Reid, apparently angered by the team’s decision to leave, wants the Raiders to clear out of the Coliseum, possibly as early as next season.
Reid was not the only fan who appeared to be dismayed at the approval, with some hitting out at the decision to “strip the city of its team.”
@RAIDERS been a fan since '83. I hope this greedy, heartless move fails spectacularly and the CA legislature bars you from returning.— The Mountain Goats (@mountain_goats) 27 March 2017
Betraying one of the most loyal fans in all of sports for money. Y'all should be ashamed. @RAIDERS— Jacoby (@JacobyFC) 27 March 2017
.@RAIDERS STL fans know how you're feeing Oakland. NFL is a joke.— Mizzou (@HolideyMutt) 27 March 2017
.@RAIDERS been a fan since the 80s. this is the most craven, gutless move you've made. Vegas will give you the loyalty you deserve - none.— ambivalent - LA-4A (@ambivalent) 27 March 2017
While Miami Dolphins owner Ross wished the team well, he gave a nod to Oakland fans in explaining his decision to vote against the move.
“We, as owners and as a league, owe it to the fans to do everything we can to stay in the communities that have supported us until all options have been exhausted,” he said, ESPN reported.
However, others say the move will give the franchise a boost and ensure the team has a suitable stadium to play home games in.
The team has left Oakland before – from 1982 to 1994 they were the ‘Los Angeles Raiders’ and they still have a large fan base in Southern California city.
A move to Nevada’s famous casino city would make Raiders games more accessible to their Los Angeles fans, as Las Vegas is 100 miles closer to LA than Oakland.