Davis makes pitch for Raiders’ move

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Barry Wil­ner

HOUS­TON >> His eyes on Las Ve­gas, Raiders owner Mark Davis says he hasn’t shut the door on any­thing. Oak­land, though, might have shut the door on it­self as home for his team.

“Oak­land was in the driver’s seat if they could’ve put to­gether any­thing,” Davis said Wed­nes­day at the NFL’s fall meet­ings, af­ter up­dat­ing his fel­low own­ers on his de­sire to re­lo­cate to the gam­bling cap­i­tal. “They came up with noth­ing.

“Las Ve­gas has al­ready done what it is sup­posed to do and we have to bring it up to the Na­tional Foot­ball League and get per­mis­sion to move to Las Ve­gas.”

Ne­vada law­mak­ers ap­proved a deal last week that in­creases ho­tel taxes in the Las Ve­gas area to raise $750 mil­lion for a sta­dium and more than $400 mil­lion to ex­pand and up­grade the Las Ve­gas Con­ven­tion Cen­ter. Bil­lion­aire casino owner Shel­don Adel­son is putting $650 mil­lion to­ward the project, while the Raiders and the NFL will kick in $500 mil­lion.

Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell also said the NFL is look­ing into es­tab­lish­ing a de­vel­op­men­tal league; re-ex­am­in­ing the rules for on-field player cel­e­bra­tions; and re­open­ing the la­bor agree­ment. He said the league is mon­i­tor­ing de­clin­ing TV rat­ings, too.

Sev­eral own­ers in­sisted it’s far too early to reach any con­clu­sions in the Raiders’ re­lo­ca­tion is­sue, and none of them wanted to touch the re­la­tion­ship an NFL team might have with a casino mogul.

Good­ell sup­ported Davis’ as­ser­tion there has been no move­ment to­ward keep­ing the fran­chise in the Bay Area, say­ing “we have been work­ing to see if there are alternatives and we don’t have one” in Oak­land.

“If Oak­land is go­ing to be suc­cess­ful in of­fer­ing the Raiders and the NFL a vi­able al­ter­na­tive to mov­ing to Las Ve­gas, I have to stay clear­headed,” said Oak­land Mayor Libby Schaaf. “I can­not af­ford for us to be thrown off our game be­cause Ne­vada law­mak­ers have deemed it ap­pro­pri­ate to put $750 mil­lion in pub­lic money to­wards a pri­vate sports fa­cil­ity. While I’m com­mit­ted to keep­ing the Raiders, I will not en­ter into a bid­ding war with Ne­vada us­ing pub­lic funds.”

Any re­lo­ca­tion needs ap­proval from three-fourths of the 32 NFL own­ers. There’s also the po­ten­tial for the Raiders to join the Rams in Los Angeles, where a new fa­cil­ity is be­ing built; they would have that op­tion should the Charg­ers, who have the first op­tion, re­main in San Diego, a de­ci­sion that team must make by mid-Jan­uary.

But those sce­nar­ios also have the pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing put on hold — the Charg­ers could re­quest a de­lay, some­thing the own­ers also would need to vote on.

Davis also said he be­lieves hav­ing a new sta­dium ready in Las Ve­gas by 2019 “would be re­ally quick.” He ac­knowl­edged the Raiders could play a pre­sea­son game as soon as next sum­mer in the ex­ist­ing Sam Boyd Sta­dium, but that fa­cil­ity isn’t any­where near up to NFL stan­dards for reg­u­lar-sea­son games.

Be­sides, Davis plans to play the next two years in Oak­land be­cause the team has a lease with two oneyear op­tions there. He cited “sta­bil­ity” for the play­ers and front of­fice, in­sist­ing he doesn’t en­vi­sion a “scorched earth pol­icy” from the fans.

Hous­ton Tex­ans owner Robert McNair noted he was im­pressed with all the work done in Las Ve­gas at this point to get the Raiders.

“I’m pleased they’ve made as much progress as they have,” he said. “We’ll look at it when it is fi­nally pre­sented in to­tal. These things are still so fluid un­til they nail ev­ery­thing down we don’t know what we’re look­ing at. We’ll wait un­til we have a full pack­age.”

Good­ell also reaf­firmed the league’s long­stand­ing op­po­si­tion to le­gal­ized gam­bling on sport­ing events.

“There clearly has been a so­ci­ety shift as far as how peo­ple view gam­bling,” he said. “We are still very much op­posed to le­gal­ized gam­bling on sports. We think that has an im­pact on the in­tegrity of our game.” Also: — As part of its “2020 Plan,” Good­ell said he’s “par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested” in cre­at­ing a de­vel­op­men­tal league. The NFL has not had one since NFL Europe went out of busi­ness in 2007, leav­ing only the CFL and some in­door leagues as places to nur­ture prospects.

“We’ve talked about it, and ... that is some­thing we might want to do,” Good­ell said. “Teams pick up 300 to 400 play­ers on av­er­age from the begin­ning of the sea­son to the end. Hav­ing them ready to play” would be help­ful.

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