By BARRY WILNER, AP Pro Football Writer
Several team owners have said this week they don’t envision a scenario where Raiders owner Mark Davis doesn’t get the required 24 votes to move the team.
Chargers owner Dean Spanos, whose team went from San Diego to Los Angeles in January, said late Sunday he “expects” the vote to go the Raiders’ way, and that he “would vote for it.”
One owner, speaking anonymously because he is not authorized to speak for the NFL, told The Associated Press: “Not only have no hurdles been made clear to us, but there isn’t any opposition to it.”
Added another, also speaking anonymously for the same reasons: “It’s going to happen and the sooner we do it, the better it is for the league and for the Raiders.”
Yes, the NFL is about to have a third franchise move in just over a year. The Rams played last season in Los Angeles after switching from St. Louis. Earlier this year, the Chargers moved from San Diego to L.A. , although they will play in a soccer stadium until the $2.6 billion facility they will share with the Rams is ready in 2019. The Rams are playing in the Los Angeles Coliseum until then.
Now, the Raiders are set to become the second pro franchise in Las Vegas, following the NHL’s Golden Knights, who begin play in the fall in an already-built arena. The Raiders could spend the next two or even three seasons in the Bay Area before their stadium — whose estimated cost has recently dropped from $1.9 billion to $1.7 billion — is ready.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and a group trying to keep the team in Oakland, made a last-ditch presentation to the NFL last week. But that letter was “filled with uncertainty,” according to Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The Raiders’ move became more certain earlier this month when Bank of America stepped up with a $650 million loan to Davis. That replaced the same amount the Raiders lost when the league balked at having casino owner Sheldon Adelson involved and he was dropped from the team’s plans.
Leaving the Bay Area is not something new with the Raiders, who played in Los Angeles from 1982-94 before heading back to Oakland. Davis was passed over last year in an attempt to move to a stadium in the LA area that would have been jointly financed with the Chargers. Instead, the owners approved the Rams’ relocation and gave the Chargers an option to join them, which they exercised this winter.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said “I hope so,” when asked if he thinks the relocation will be approved. Getting that vote on the Raiders out of the way early is a smart move because there are many other issues they will consider this week. Among those:
—Shortening regular-season overtimes from 15 minutes to 10.
—Allowing referees to use tablets to review plays rather than “go under the hood,” with final decisions being made by Dean Blandino and his officiating staff in New York, with consultation with the ref.
—Prohibiting “leapers” who try to block field goals and extra points.
—Amending the coaches’ challenge system, either by allowing a third challenge if a team is successful on one of its first two tries; now, it must be successful on both challenges to get a third.
—Entirely eliminating the three challenges per team.
—Permitting a coach to challenge any officials’ decision except on scoring plays or turnovers.
—Adding protection for a defenseless player to a receiver running a route.
—Eliminating the summer cutdown to 75 players, leading to just one cut day at the end of the preseason.
—Allowing teams to opt out of using the “color rush” jerseys in Thursday night games.
—Letting clubs negotiate with a potential hire for head coach even when that coach’s team is still playing in the postseason.
—Permitting a team to hire another team’s employee during the season as long as the employer consents.