PHOENIX – The Raiders were approved to relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas on Monday by a 31-1 vote of NFL owners.
That doesn’t mean they’re leaving anytime soon. The Raiders plan to play two, possibly three more seasons in the East Bay before heading out of town.
The Raiders have one-year team options to play at the Oakland Coliseum for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and plan to exercise them both while their Las Vegas stadium is being constructed.
Their new stadium won’t be ready for football until 2020, leaving a limbo year in 2019 without a temporary venue.
“If the fans would like us to stay there,” Davis said, “we’d love to be there for that and possibly talk to them about extending it for maybe 2019 as well and try to bring a championship back to Oakland.”
The Raiders are staying in the Bay Area because the Las Vegas area does not have a suitable venue to host NFL games. Sam Boyd Stadium hosts UNLV games, but would need upgrades, especially to the locker rooms and stadium security to host Raiders regular season games. There are talks of the Raiders playing a preseason game there in coming years.
The Raiders could play the 2019 season at other Bay Area venues, including Cal’s Memorial Stadium and Levi’s Stadium. Davis has been adverse to playing in the 49ers’ home park, but may be willing to using it as a temporary venue.
Much of that depends on fan reaction to permanent Vegas relocation. If attendance is down or fans are hostile, the Raiders could look elsewhere for temporary digs outside the Bay Area as soon as 2018 by sprucing up Sam Boyd. The Raiders need to build a practice facility in Nevada as well before moving there permanently.
If fans continue to support a rising squad expected to compete for a division and conference titles over the next few seasons, then the Raiders could stay put.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the Silver and Black will be the Oakland Raiders as long as they play in the Bay Area. The Raiders would like to stay there a while, though they can bail if things don’t work out.
“We’re still the Oakland Raiders and we are the Raiders and we represent the Raider Nation,” Davis said. “As I said earlier there’s going to be some disappointed fans and angry fans. It’s going to be up to me to talk to them and let them know why, how and what has happened. Hopefully we can work things out and work together for the future.”
Davis said any season ticket holders jilted by this move can receive refunds on deposits already paid.
“If any fans who have given season ticket deposits want refunds, we’d be happy to do that,” Davis said. “Well, not happily, but we would do so absolutely.”