PHOENIX – The Raiders are on the move again, and this time they’re headed to Las Vegas.
The Raiders received 31 of a possible 32 votes to approve the move on Monday, with the Miami Dolphins being the sole team to stand in opposition.
Raiders owner Mark Davis needed at least 24 of 32 votes, and there were several hours of meetings and presentations Monday at the NFL annual meetings at the Arizona Biltmore.
The Raiders plan to remain in Oakland for the next two seasons, Davis wrote in a statement after the move had been approved.
"The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA," Davis said. "We know that some fans will be disappointed and even angry, but we hope that they do not direct that frustration to the players, coaches and staff."
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the team needed time to get its stadium built in Las Vegas, as NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman said the project is expected to be ready by 2020. Davis said he was open to the possibility of staying in Oakland in 2019 after the team's remaining two one-year leases.
Oakland fans who had purchased season tickets prior to the relocation announcement will be granted refunds if they request them, Davis added.
The Raiders become the third franchise to push through a successful relocation vote in the last 15 months, after the Rams and Chargers both finalized their moves to Los Angeles.
Goodell wrote a letter to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf late Friday evening that expressed disappointment in the city’s latest stadium finance proposals and sparked a strong jolt of momentum for the relocation.
"Despite all of these efforts, ours and yours, we have not yet identified a viable solution," Goodell wrote. "It is disappointing to me and our clubs to have come to that conclusion."
The letter was in response to additional details Schaaf released publicly on Friday regarding the last-minute efforts from the city to keep the Raiders in Oakland. Schaaf wrote to Goodell that 55 acres just south of the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum were “immediately available” for a new stadium construction and the proposal also indicated that the Fortress Investment Group would offer $600 million for the project.
Schaaf had on Monday requested the owners delay their vote. After relocation was granted, she released a statement saying that the city's fans "deserved better."
“I am proud that we stood firm in refusing to use public money to subsidize stadium construction and that we did not capitulate to their unreasonable and unnecessary demand that we choose between our football and baseball franchises," Schaaf wrote. “As a lifelong Oaklander, my heart aches today for the Raider Nation. These are the most committed and passionate fans any city or team could hope to have."
Davis and the Raiders were wooed by a $1.9 billion stadium project – with $750 million in public funding – to be constructed near the Strip in Las Vegas. The project gained significant momentum when Davis secured Bank of America as a replacement investor for the $650 million commitment that was withdrawn by Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul, in January.
The Raiders have been in Oakland in 44 of the franchise’s 57 seasons, including the last 22. The Raiders kicked off their history in the AFL in Oakland in 1960, but moved to Los Angeles for the 1982 season. They played there 13 years before previous owner Al Davis moved the team back to Oakland in 1995.