Jan. 19, 2017
Raiders Apply For Vegas Move
Nothing will be official for likely two months, and the move itself may not even happen until 2019 or 2010, but the Oakland Raiders have taken a major step towards securing their move from the Bay Area.
The Raiders applied Thursday to relocate from Oakland, California to Las Vegas, Nevada, the NFL confirmed. The team is expected to play its next two seasons at minimum in Oakland while the new stadium in Vegas is built. It is unclear where the team would play in 2019 as the stadium is not expected to be ready and the lease with Oakland only extends through 2018 (based on options the Raiders have on it, should they choose to do so, the Raiders could find another venue now). The move could be voted upon by league owners in late March.
In the meantime, the franchise is in some state of limbo, needing approval on the move before construction will start and sales pitches on tickets will be harder if fans don't know whether or not the team is really theirs anymore. Historically, teams setting up only temporary shop in a market have not fared well, with some exceptions. The Hartford Whalers of the NHL moved to Greensboro, North Carolina in 1997 en route to Raleigh, North Carolina in 1999 and suffered at the gate. The same was true of the Houston Oilers of the NFL who made a stop in Memphis, Tennessee on the way to Nashville. The team had a two year lease in Memphis but attendance was so poor in their first season that they found a new temporary home in Nashville for what would have been the second season. However, the NBA's New Orleans Hornets drew great support in their two seasons as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets (playing almost every home game in Oklahoma) in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, proving the Oklahoma City market's viability and facilitating Seattle's move to become the Oklahoma City Thunder. The New Orleans Saints didn't draw well in nearby Baton Rouge, but drew impressive crowds in San Antonio as they split time between the two cities for a season.
The Raiders would be the third NFL team to announce a relocation since last year began, with the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers both moving to Los Angeles, in 2016 and 2017 respectively.