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Oakland Raiders to consider Las Vegas move

Oakland Raiders officials will reportedly travel to Las Vegas today (Friday) to meet with Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive of US gambling company Las Vegas Sands, to discuss the potential relocation of the NFL American football team to the city.

Len Jessup, president of the University of Las Vegas (UNLV), said in a leaked memo that Las Vegas Sands plans to build a new multi-purpose stadium on land recently acquired by the university. The memo, obtained by political reporter Jon Ralston, said Raiders officials will meet with Las Vegas Sands representatives to evaluate the area as a potential relocation option for the team.

“Las Vegas Sands plans to publicly announce its support of a new special events stadium to be built on a 42-acre piece of land recently acquired by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas,” Jessup’s memo said.

“Correspondingly, the Sands leadership team let us know that officials from the Oakland Raiders are scheduled to travel to Las Vegas and tour locations around the valley for a potential new home, and they have asked us to meet them at our 42-acre site on Friday morning to answer questions about that site.”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper said the Raiders contingent will include owner Mark Davis, with Adelson in attendance on behalf of Las Vegas Sands. The reported venue will have a capacity of 65,000, feature a domed roof and be funded through a public-private partnership.

The future of the Raiders in Oakland remains uncertain after the franchise, along with the San Diego Chargers, this month lost out to the St. Louis Rams for a move to Los Angeles.  The Raiders do not have a lease at their current O.co Coliseum home in Oakland, but the team is said to be in discussions about remaining at the venue for the 2016 season. The team also has an option to join the Rams in Los Angeles should the Chargers decline their first option.

The Raiders have declined to directly address the subject of the meeting, while Ron Reese, a spokesman for Las Vegas Sands, would not elaborate on the nature of the talks.

However, Andy Abboud senior vice-president of government relations and community development at Las Vegas Sands, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper yesterday (Thursday) that the project will go ahead with or without the support of an NFL franchise.

He added: “We are moving forward with the stadium concept with or without an NFL team. We see a lot more opportunities — conference championships, bowl games, NFL exhibition football, boxing, soccer, neutral site games, and music festivals. There is an entire segment out there.”

Las Vegas remains without a major league sports franchise. The city’s T-Mobile Arena, which opens on April 6, is the proposed home for a potential NHL ice hockey expansion team. The Las Vegas Hockey Vision group has explored the possibility of securing an NHL franchise in the city and sees the arena as an ideal home venue. Las Vegas is battling against Quebec City for the potential new team.