PHOENIX – The NFL formally voted to approve the Raiders' lease agreement at the Oakland Coliseum without resistance at the league owners meetings on Monday.
The Raiders have been virtually locked in to play the 2019 season at Oakland Coliseum for some time. The Oakland Coliseum Authority board approved the one-year lease agreement, which contains a 2020 option, on March 15.
Procedurally, a few more steps remained.
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors gave their expected stamp of approval on March 19. The Oakland City Council did the same Thursday. Both votes were unanimous, a predictable turn considering the Coliseum Authority was acting essentially on behalf of those governing bodies, with representatives from each entity.
Those approvals essentially set the Raiders stadium situation prior to their move to Las Vegas in 2020, but the NFL still had to weigh in. That happened Monday at the NFL owners meeting, when the lease agreement was unanimously approved by each member club.
"It was unanimous," Raiders owner Mark Davis said. "There was almost one abstention."
That last part was a reference to late Raiders owner Al Davis' penchant for abstaning from league votes. The Raiders were voting yes to this lease agreement along with the rest of the league. It's the final hurdle while transitioning to Las Vegas in 2020, when their new stadium and training facility are scheduled to open. Save unforeseen delays, the Raiders have a clear path to Las Vegas.
Now, the Raiders' prolonged search for a 2019 home, one that sent the Raiders searching outside the market, is finally complete. They looked far and wide for one after Oakland sued the Raiders and the NFL over alleged antitrust violations and breach of contract. The team has filed a motion to dismiss the suit.
Owner Mark Davis didn’t want to play in a city that was suing him – the Raiders at one point abandoned active lease negotiations with the Coliseum Authority -- but struggles to find a proper home proved difficult. The 49ers wouldn’t waive territorial rights to allow a pact formed with the San Francisco Giants to play at Oracle Park.
The Raiders also spoke with the 49ers about playing at Levi’s Stadium, but that was essentially a non-starter considering Davis’ aversion to the Santa Clara venue.
The Silver and Black ended up back at the table with the Coliseum authority, using the same lease terms available before Oakland’s lawsuit was levied.
What followed was a weird story to cover, with far too many incremental updates on a now-finalized lease agreement with concerning hurdles.
Now, the Raiders are set up to transition easily to Las Vegas in 2020 if their new stadium is completed on schedule as expected. The Raiders will pay $7.5 million in rent for nine games this season, a sum that will drop if the Raiders play a preseason game in Canada as previously reported. They would owe $10.5 million if they exercised a 2020 option. The Raiders, however, should be in Las Vegas by then.
The stadium being built just off the Las Vegas Strip has incurred minor delays, but nothing that should divert from its scheduled opening in the 2020 preseason.