Raiders to Vegas

The Raiders got beaten to the hearts of the customers...again

The Raiders got beaten to the hearts of the customers...again

“And her mother said, ‘Never mind, your part is to be, what you’ll be.’”

                                   -- The Who, Sally Simpson.

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One of the enduring lessons of American sports is that when it comes to sharing the same geographical space, there is an alpha team, and a beta team, and the roles are almost never reversed. The Dodgers lord it over the Angels, the Yankees lord it over the Mets, the Cubs over the White Sox, the Giants over the Jets, the Lakers over the Clippers, etc. That relationship dominates every decision the beta team makes because being the perpetual afterthought creates a corrosive atmosphere.

And locally, this applies as well. The Giants lord it over the A’s, the Warriors over the Kings, and the 49ers over the Raiders. In an economic system where only one winner is allowed and sharing is anathema, the alpha team gets used to standing on the beta team’s neck, and the beta team exhausts itself trying to escape.

Which is part of why the Raiders have always looked to leave their ancestral home, and why they are so enthused to become the Las Vegas Raiders.

Only they got beaten to the hearts of their customers – again. In a town that once had every team because it had no team at all, the hockey team Vegas was willing to accept is now the epicenter of everything the town’s sporting consciousness holds dear. The Golden Knights are the modest little team that went from fetus to newborn to full fledged king in 11 months.

And Jon Gruden has to follow that?

The Knights fought their way to the Stanley Cup Final in their first year of life. IN THEIR FIRST YEAR OF LIFE, YOU HEAR ME? This has been done twice before, both times in hockey, and only because of circumstances beyond the team’s control. And even if they do not end up winning the Cup and taking it from one casino to the next through the entire summer in a Bizarro world twist on an old Canadian tradition, Las Vegas is theirs. They were first, and they were best first.

And once again, the Raiders have to punch uphill, as they have every day for nearly their entire history. They had a window in the Seventies when they were demonstrably better than the 49ers in all ways, including the stadium in which they played, and then Al Davis left for Los Angeles and fighting with the Rams.

Then he came back at the tail end of the 49ers dynasty, briefly made an excellent team that faded too quickly, and since then there has been only losing, death, and wanderlust. Vegas was supposed to solve all of it – the Raiders would have their own state, and the gambling capital of the world. They would be the alpha dog at last.

And now there is a team that a year ago had no players and now is neck-deep in civic memories that will last forever, from the way they melded with the two in the wake of a terroristic act on Opening Night to the way they raced to the most improbable Stanley Cup Final ever. The Knights are the team that turned the concept of the honeymoon and layered it in platinum.

Next to all that, Mark Davis is the beta dog again, and unless he moves to a city that doesn’t even have a successful Division 1 college team, it would seem he is doomed to be that guy forever. His part is to be what he’ll be.

'It's a big day' for Raiders as NFL approves Las Vegas stadium financing plan

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USATSI

'It's a big day' for Raiders as NFL approves Las Vegas stadium financing plan

ORLANDO, Fla. – NFL owners approved the Raiders application to move from Oakland to Las Vegas around this time last year, but it came with conditions.

They obviously had to bring back a viable stadium plan, and explain how they were going to pay for it. That happened Tuesday afternoon at the NFL owners meetings.

Raiders owner Mark Davis said the $1.8-billion project, which includes $750 million in public funds, a substantial Raiders investment and a $200 million G4 loan from the NFL, was approved.

Approval was more of a rubber stamp than anything else. The Raiders have kept the NFL apprised of their stadium plan, from design to financing, over the last year.

Tuesday’s vote completes the process from the NFL side. Raiders president Marc Badain and executive vice president and general counsel will attend a Wednesday meeting of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority to finalize the deal and sign all pertinent documents.

Some stadium work is already underway, and has been for months now.

Davis was excited by the day’s events but insists he won’t jump for joy until a ribbon cutting, scheduled for Aug. 2020, is complete.

“It’s a big day,” Davis said. “We have a few more things to do. Tomorrow is a big meeting (in Las Vegas). It’s exciting to see a public/private partnership that has gone so well and so smoothly.”

That isn’t good news for Oakland Raiders fans, but they harbored no hopes the Raiders stadium plan would derail at this stage. The Raiders are going to Las Vegas in 2020, and plan to play in Oakland the next two seasons. They will exercise a one-year lease option for the 2018 season, and hope to strike a deal for 2019.

“We want to play there, but they have to be reasonable as well,” Davis said on Sunday. “We’ll see. We haven’t gotten into serious taking stages. It’s not a problem finding a place to play for a year, but we seriously want to play that in Oakland and bring a championship to that city.”

The Raiders have taken 50,000 deposits for season tickets in the new Las Vegas stadium, though general tickets have not been made available. The team has started selling suites and is just now moving on to club seats.

Davis hopes to host a Super Bowl in the near future, but said Tuesday the NFL draft might come first. He ideally hopes to introduce his venue via the draft in 2020, with the stadium set to be football ready in August of that year.

Davis' 'biggest challenge' is Raiders serving Oakland market while prepping for Vegas move

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AP

Davis' 'biggest challenge' is Raiders serving Oakland market while prepping for Vegas move

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Raiders plan to spend the next two seasons in Oakland. Owner Mark Davis doesn’t want to leave the East Bay until his new Las Vegas Stadium is complete in Aug. 2020.

They have a one-year lease option to play at Oakland Coliseum. Davis wants to remain there in 2019, though a new agreement must be reached for that year.

The Silver and Black will continue serving two markets, as they practice and play in Oakland while moving forward with new digs, ticket sales and increase community outreach.

The Raiders, Davis in particular, have been careful to pay homage to the Bay Area market they still call home, even while so much focus on the business side is honed on Las Vegas.

It’s a delicate balance Davis must walk to keep his Raider Nation intact.

“I said a few years ago that it was the biggest challenge,” Davis said on Sunday at the NFL owners meetings. “Right now, we’re serving the Oakland market. The fans there, and the Raider Nation is what we’re serving. We have never deviated from that, and we have great respect for everyone up there.”

The Raiders remain an Oakland team. They don’t sell Las Vegas Raiders merchandise, even in Sin City, but have increased community outreach in Nevada. They have opened a Raiders Preview Center in the market that acts as a museum and shows plans for a new stadium being constructed off the Las Vegas Strip.

Ticket demand is high. The Raiders have taken 50,000 deposits on season tickets, a monster number that shows the draw of an NFL team in that market. The team has started selling suites and is starting to open up club seats for purchase.

Oakland Raiders fans, however, will get first crack at seats in the new place.

“All current season ticket holders have first priority coming in, which is different that how others have done it,” Davis said. “From there, we’ll move into the local market.”

Davis has great affinity for the East Bay and Oakland in particular, and saying he wants to win a championship before moving away isn’t lip service. He’s passionate about that quest.

“The Raiders were born in Oakland, and that will always be part of our DNA,” Davis said. “No matter where we go, that was our home. That’s where we started.”

The Raiders moved to Los Angeles for a time, returned to Oakland and are leaving again after landing a sweetheart stadium deal that includes $750 million in public funds. The Raiders are assuming the cost of a significant portion of the $1.8-billion project, which will get final approval at these owners meetings.

Davis wasn’t able to secure a deal in Oakland, where publics funds weren’t available beyond infrastructure improvements. They were mired in a complex situation with MLB’s Athletics also on the Oakland Coliseum site, and at times butted heads with local politicians. Those exchanges remain a point of frustration for the Raiders owner, but he chooses to focus on making the most of his remain time in Oakland.

Local TV ratings are down, but Raiders fans still show up in droves on game day and create a home-field environment. Focus there is on football, not the fact the Raiders are moving again.

“It has been interesting,” Davis said. “I expected more blowback than we’re received. There’s a vocal part of the fan base that is really angry, but 99.9 percent of it is positive. It’s been amazing to me how great our fans have been. I’m seeing less and less of the anger every day.”

The transition from Oakland to Las Vegas can be an awkward one, asking for support from a community you’re leaving to join another. Davis understands that fact. He understands the anger and frustration and is trying to be as forthright as possible and explain to fans exactly why he’s making decisions.

“I’ve always tried to be honest and transparent,” Davis said. “I think people have been surprised the last two years that we’ve sold that stadium out. The key thing is to be honest (with fans).”