It’s official, Las Vegas has a professional football team to call its own. Early Monday, the NFL owners voted 31-1 at the league meetings to approve the franchise’s relocation. That means that within the next four years, the exact date isn’t known, the Oakland Raiders will become the Las Vegas Raiders.
After the Raiders filed for relocation earlier this year, there was some debate about when and how the move would be financed but the overall relocation was more or less inevitable. The Raiders needed 24 votes to get the move approved, they got 31 and the NFL can say whatever they want, the league wanted this move to happen.
The move likely won’t happen for a few years though, as their Las Vegas stadium still needs to be built and the Raiders plan on playing out the 2017 and 2018 seasons at the Oakland Coliseum. That could create a bit of an awkward relationship for the Raiders and their fans, which was made even more awkward when owner Mark Davis ended his relocation press release by saying, “We would love nothing more than to bring a championship back to the Bay Area.” If Davis wanted that, he likely would have found a way to have the Raiders stay in Oakland.
With the move, the entire American sports landscape could be undergoing a shift. Sporting leagues used to have a strong stance against gambling or sports betting but recently that has changed. Fantasy sports sites are now leading sponsors for some leagues and while the NFL still, on the surface, doesn’t condone sports betting, the Raiders’ move to Vegas shows that they are now more accepting of the culture that has consumed American sports over the last few years.
Betting and Oakland’s disappointment aside, one fan bases loss is another’s gain. Las Vegas picks up another professional sports franchise, the Golden Knights will play their first NHL season starting this fall, and while the New York Giants will always be my favorite NFL franchise, I don’t think I’ll look that bad in black and silver when the Raiders finally come to town.