The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Nicki Jhab­vala

phoenix» he Bron­cos can for­get San Diego. Soon, they will for­get Oak­land too. At the NFL meet­ings team own­ers over­whelm­ingly ap­proved the Raiders’ pro­posed move to Las Ve­gas, with only Mi­ami vot­ing in op­po­si­tion. The Raiders needed at least 24 of the 32 own­ers to vote yes, and they re­ceived 31.

The Raiders are the third team to re­ceive ap­proval for re­lo­ca­tion within the last year and a half, join­ing the Charg­ers and the Rams, and the sec­ond AFC West ri­val of the Bron­cos to be mov­ing. The Raiders are ex­pected to move to Las Ve­gas in two years, meaning the Bron­cos’ road sched­ule in 2019 will have a much dif­fer­ent look.

“It’s a tough day for the Na­tional Foot­ball League and es­pe­cially the fans of Oak­land,” said Bron­cos CEO and pres­i­dent Joe El­lis, a mem­ber of the NFL’s sta­dium com­mit­tee and sta­dium se­cu­rity and fan be­hav­ior com­mit­tee. “We’ve now had three teams move in the last (15 months), so any­time a team re­lo­cates, it’s dif­fi­cult on their fan base, their com­mu­nity. We’ve cer­tainly got a stake in the game; they’re a big ri­val and we go there ev­ery year and to not go to the Black Hole af­ter two more years will be dif­fi­cult, just be­cause our play­ers, our fans get to go to the games out there. Our or­ga­ni­za­tion, we have great re­spect for the Raiders and we love the ri­valry.

“But it’ll con­tinue in Las Ve­gas. I credit the Raiders for com­ing up with a creative so­lu­tion that gets them what will be a great, state-of-the-art venue and Las Ve­gas ap­pears to be a city on the rise that will sup­port NFL foot­ball, and cer­tainly the Raiders’ fan bases al­ways fol­low them wher­ever they’ve gone over the years. So I think the ri­valry will en­dure.”

NFL com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell penned a let­ter to Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oak­land that was ob­tained and pub­lished by the East Bay Times over the week­end. Good­ell thanked Schaaf for her ef­fort in try­ing to keep the Raiders from mov­ing but said the city’s pro­posal wasn’t “clear and spe­cific, ac­tion­able in a rea­son­able time frame, and free of ma­jor con­tin­gen­cies.”

Ba­si­cally: Good try, but not good enough.

With mo­men­tum hav­ing clearly shifted in fa­vor of a Raiders move to Las Ve­gas be­fore Mon­day’s vot­ing, El­lis said he en­tered the meet­ing with mixed feel­ings: While he didn’t like to see an­other team on the move, he un­der­stood the rea­sons.

The Raiders se­cured a $650 mil­lion loan from Bank of Amer­ica and a com­mit­ment for $750 mil­lion in tax­payer money for their pro­posed $1.7 bil­lion, 65,000seat sta­dium near the Las Ve­gas Strip.

Oak­land’s pro­posed $1.3 bil­lion, 55,000-seat sta­dium was pro­jected to be ready by 2021 and in­cluded a $600 mil­lion loan from Fortress In­vest­ment, a $500 mil­lion com­mit­ment from the NFL and $200 mil­lion from the city. Fif­teen acres would be re­served for base­ball’s Oak­land Athletics, if they opt to stay.

In 1998, as the Bron­cos headed for a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive Su­per Bowl ti­tle, Den­ver-area vot­ers ap­proved the con­struc­tion of a new sta­dium for the team that cost about $400 mil­lion. A six-county sales tax in­crease paid for nearly $300 mil­lion, and the taxfree mu­nic­i­pal bonds were paid off in 2012.

“We were very for­tu­nate 18 years ago,” El­lis said. “Those days are far and few be­tween, of get­ting pub­lic sup­port. In Las Ve­gas, you get $750 mil­lion put for­ward for the Raiders’ sta­dium. It’s pretty amaz­ing.”

For years, the NFL and other pro sports leagues op­posed mov­ing to a city that had le­gal­ized gam­bling. The NFL pro­hibits its play­ers from gam­bling.

“I think the own­ers’ and the league’s at­ti­tude to­ward the mar­ket has changed over time and their will­ing­ness to ac­cept it for what it is — a great en­ter­tain­ment city,” El­lis said. “Yes, it has gam­bling, but there’s less of an em­pha­sis on that, I think, and there’s more of ac­cep­tance per­haps of the city over­all. So that’s cer­tainly there, and the thriv­ing nature of the city, the way it’s grow­ing — it’s one of the fastest-grow­ing His­panic com­mu­ni­ties in the coun­try. There’s just a lot of up­side there that ev­ery­body sees and they put to­gether a great pre­sen­ta­tion to build a sta­dium and wel­come the Raiders. And I think it’ll be great for Den­ver Bronco fans. That’s a short trip, and it’s a fun trip.”

Bron­cos gen­eral man­ager John El­way echoed El­lis’ sen­ti­ment in that the team will miss trav­el­ing to Oak­land reg­u­larly but is ex­cited about the fu­ture in Las Ve­gas.

“Oak­land was al­ways a unique place to go play and they had a great fol­low­ing there,” El­way said. “But times change, and it’ll be in­ter­est­ing play­ing in Las Ve­gas too. I know the sta­dium looks beau­ti­ful there, so we’re look­ing for­ward to that too. But we’ll miss Oak­land.”

Fan Matt Gutier­rez car­ries a Raiders flag Mon­day by a fa­mous sign wel­com­ing visi­tors to Las Ve­gas. NFL team own­ers ap­proved the move of the Oak­land fran­chise to the largest city in Nevada in a vote in Phoenix. John Locher, The As­so­ci­ated Press

Ben Mar­got, The As­so­ci­ated Press

Raiders fan Robert Mo­rales dis­cusses the im­pend­ing move of the team to Las Ve­gas on Mon­day at a sports bar in San Le­an­dro, Calif.

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