LAS VEGAS (CBS SF and AP) — Raiders owner Mark Davis says he wants to move the team to Las Vegas and is willing to spend a half billion dollars as part of a deal for a new stadium in the city.
Davis told the committee studying building a $1.4 billion stadium in Las Vegas that the team would play the 2016 season in Oakland, but would plan on staging at least one pre-season game at the aging 40,000-seat UNLV stadium in 2017 to help build the local fan base.
The team could possibly stay and play in Oakland for as long as three seasons while a state-of-art stadium was being built in Las Vegas.
"We would put this on the fast track," the Raiders owner said. "We will be committed to you, if you are committed to us....I think we have support of some of the people in the NFL."
Davis said "there has been no progress in Oakland over the last few months."
Statements like that have Oakland officials frustrated.
City Councilman Larry Reid, who chairs the Oakland-Alameda County Joint Powers Authority, which oversees the Oakland Coliseum's operations, said, "Davis keeps saying he wants to stay in Oakland but now the indications are that he doesn't want to stay in Oakland."
Reid said he thinks Davis is being "disingenuous" by telling the Raiders' loyal fans that he wants to stay in Oakland and asks them to buy tickets for games this year but will not engage in serious talks about building a new stadium that would keep the team in Oakland for the long term.
Meanwhile, Davis upped the ante in a bid to move the team to Vegas, appearing Thursday alongside soccer great David Beckham and billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson before the committee.
Beckham is considering moving his MLS professional soccer franchise from Miami to the new stadium.
"It's a bigger idea, it's about the MLS coming here, it's about bringing the biggest European teams here like Manchester United," Beckham said. "To be able to come here and be part of this and being able to speak this morning is a huge honor to myself."
Davis repeated what he said he told Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval a few weeks ago, saying the Raiders want to turn the Silver State into the "silver and black state."
Davis noted the Raiders played in Las Vegas in an exhibition against Houston in 1964, and said with help building the stadium it won't be another 50 years before they play here again.
"With your help it won't be another 50 years before the Raiders play another game in Las Vegas," he said.
Adelson, owner of Las Vegas Sands, is spearheading building a 65,000-seat stadium just off the Las Vegas Strip to host a variety of events, including UNLV football, soccer matches and major concerts. But it is the inclusion of the Raiders that is pushing the stadium forward, and the appearance of Davis before the committee was the most solid commitment to date to moving an NFL team to the city.
Davis said he was committed to carrying on his father's legacy with the Raiders, and that the No. 1 thing to ensure the Raiders brand lives on is that the team gets a new stadium.
The NFL has long shunned Las Vegas, refusing its TV ads and telling players not to make appearances at casinos. But Davis said he believes owners will approve the move if the stadium is built.
"If we give them an offer they can't refuse and that's what we're talking about now, I don't see a problem," Davis said.
The meeting before the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee comes as the push for a stadium enters a sprint. Backers said they would ask for a special session of the Nevada Legislature in August to approve diverting some room tax funds for the stadium.
In all, Davis, Adelson and others want to put $650 million into the stadium, with the rest being generated by tourism taxes.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell softened on the league's opposition to Las Vegas in recent weeks, saying it would be up to owners whether a team could be in a city that features legalized sports betting.
But the NFL plays games in London where there are many betting parlors taking wagers on the games, and Davis said he was confident he could win a vote among fellow owners for a move
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