National Football League (NFL) commissioner Roger Goodell has warned that there’s “still a lot of work to be done” before the Oakland Raiders could consider relocation to Las Vegas, adding he is a confident an agreement can be reached for the franchise to remain in its current home city.
Goodell was speaking in Minneapolis yesterday (Sunday) as the Minnesota Vikings commemorated their opening regular season game at the new U.S. Bank Stadium with a 17-14 win over the Green Bay Packers.
The Raiders have long been unhappy with their current O.Co Coliseum home, which they share with MLB baseball team Oakland Athletics. In February, the franchise signed a one-year lease extension to remain at the Coliseum for the 2016 season as the team continues to seek a new permanent home stadium in the city.
The agreement secured the immediate future of the team in Oakland, with the Raiders having previously been in contention for relocation to Los Angeles. The O.Co Coliseum deal also includes one-year extension options for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, but Raiders owner Mark Davis has been courting Las Vegas with the prospect of a move having taken a sizeable step forward last week.
On Thursday, the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee (SNTIC) voted in favour of a financing package for a new stadium in Las Vegas. The development marked the first step in a three-stage effort, but was seen as a significant milestone in the city’s bid to secure its first NFL team. The 11-member SNTIC panel voted unanimously to recommend the financing proposal for a $1.9bn (€1.7bn), 65,000-seat stadium that would serve as the new home for the Raiders.
The SNTIC’s recommendation will now move to Governor Brian Sandoval, who could elect to call a special session of the Nevada Legislature to vote on the financing plan. Project backers are said to be keen for a vote as soon as possible so they can take the proposal to NFL owners ahead of their January meeting and potential team relocation vote. The Raiders’ relocation would need the backing of 24 of the NFL’s 32 team owners.
“There's still a lot that has to happen before we would get to that stage,” Goodell said of the owners approving Las Vegas as an NFL city. “Recognising that they came out of committee with a bill, but there's still a lot of work to be done to improve that recommendation.”
The Raiders relocated to compete in Los Angeles from 1982 to 1994, before returning to Oakland in 1995. Goodell suggested that concerted efforts would be made to prevent a repeat of this scenario.
“Well, you never want to see a community lose their franchise once, much less twice,” he added, according to the Associated Press news agency. “That's why we work so hard with our communities to say, ‘This is what you have to try to get to,’ because you need to try to make sure this franchise continues to be successful.
“The Minnesota community did that in a great way. I think we can do it in Oakland. I think there's a solution there, but it takes the community to help identify it.”