After 45 seasons in the Bay Area, the Raiders are leaving Oakland.
NFL owners voted 31-1 on Monday to allow the franchise to relocate to Las Vegas, paving the way for the Raiders to leave the city they have called home for most of their history.
Raiders owners have been looking to leave Oakland for at least the last two years, and settled on Las Vegas as a preferred destination after losing out on a bid to move to Los Angeles last year.
The move will be lucrative for the franchise: In October, the Nevada Legislature approved the construction of a billion-dollar stadium that will cost taxpayers $750 million ― the largest public subsidy ever for an American sports stadium.
The Raiders will be the third NFL franchise to relocate in the past year. The Rams left St. Louis for Los Angeles before the 2017 season. In January, the Chargers announced they were leaving San Diego to join the Rams in LA.
It wasn’t long ago that Las Vegas was considered an impossible destination for major sports franchises, given the NFL and other leagues’ staunch opposition to legalized sports gambling. Now, though, Sin City will be home to two major teams: Last June, the National Hockey League approved the creation of the Vegas Golden Knights, who will begin play in the 2017-2018 season.
The city of Oakland made a last-ditch effort to save the Raiders last week, with a proposal to build a new stadium. But it wasn’t enough, particularly because of the size of the public subsidy Las Vegas will put toward the new stadium.
“Despite all of these efforts, ours and yours, we have not yet identified a viable solution,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a Friday letter to city officials that spelled the end of the franchise’s future in Oakland. “It is disappointing to me and our clubs to have come to that conclusion.”
The Raiders have played in Oakland for all but 13 seasons of their existence ― first from 1960 to 1981, then again from 1995 until this year. The Raiders are expected to play at least one more season in Oakland, and could potentially play there in 2018 too, as they wait for the Vegas stadium to be completed.