From 2002 to 2016, a total of zero NFL franchises moved cities. Since then, three teams have been given the thumbs up to pack their bags and relocate. After the Chargers and Rams succeeded in moving to Los Angeles, another team that was in the mix, the Oakland Raiders, proposed a move to Las Vegas, a move that passed by a 31-1 vote. The Raiders’ move to Las Vegas is huge news with significant implications for the sports universe.
- Sports in Las Vegas
For years, the NFL staunchly advocated against involvement in Las Vegas, even placing restrictions on players and referees regarding the city. Now, the league office pulled a 180 degree turn and is going so far in the opposite direction that it even approved a team to move to the city. Currently, no professional teams play in Las Vegas, but with an NHL expansion franchise, the Golden Knights, nearing its first game and the Raiders soon relocating, Las Vegas could explode as a sports city. Also, with the Raiders planning a state-of-the-art stadium, could a Vegas Super Bowl be in the works?
- Lame Duck in Oakland
The Raiders’ move won’t be immediate, however. Unfortunately, the Raiders won’t be able to move for another two years, so they’ll still be the Oakland Raiders until then. All of the controversy could take away from the Raiders’ on-field product, especially problematic because the team has Super Bowl aspirations and needs all the help it can to unseat the Patriots in the AFC. The Oakland fans, whose Black Hole section at Raider home games is one of the most feared and legendary fan sections in the history of sports, will also be a storyline to watch.
- End of Relocation?
With the Rams moving from St. Louis to Los Angeles, the Chargers bolting from San Diego to Los Angeles, and the Raiders leaving Oakland for Las Vegas, the winds of change have been blowing hard the past few months, but the action should die down soon. Those three teams were the primary ones who were in stadium turmoil, and now that they’re settled (or about to be settled) in their new homes they won’t be looking around for their new homes anytime soon. I don’t foresee any of the three cities that lost NFL teams to regain a franchise in the next 10 years, based on the NFL’s departure from expansion and the lack of teams that need new cities and are on the West Coast or Midwest regions.
- My Opinion
While I’m not furious about the move (like I was at the Chargers’ relocation) and don’t think that Oakland deserves an NFL franchise, the relocation of the Raiders is a gamble which I’m not sure will pay off. For one, Mark Davis and the Raiders’ ownership seem to be taking away from the team’s potent present for future financial gain and Derek Carr and the young Raider roster doesn’t need the distractions and empty home games for the next two years. Secondly, the idea of an NFL team in Las Vegas seems like a recipe for disaster for some players (such as Johnny Manziel) who are already getting into trouble in less flamboyant cities. Does the NFL realize that Las Vegas is the Sin City? Lastly, the move (and subsequent approval) proves again the NFL’s priorities- money first, on-field product second. That is what I believe will ultimately determine whether the Las Vegas experiment will prove successful- the effect on the Raiders’ on-field performance and the game of football itself. I’ll take my bets against Las Vegas.