The Oakland Raiders have pushed their chips to the middle of the table, intending to relocate to Las Vegas.
The club formally alerted the NFL on Thursday, submitting a relocation application and officially taking the first step toward a market the league has long avoided, the city being synonymous with gambling.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval tweeted that Raiders owner Mark Davis “is a man of his word,” and called the development a “significant step” toward bringing a team to the state.
There are strong indications that owners have grown far more comfortable with putting a franchise there, and the league is not encouraged that there is a stadium solution in East Bay despite various attempts over the years.
Unlike the Chargers, who already had the green light to join the Rams in Los Angeles, the Raiders must get approval from three-quarters of the league’s 32 owners to move. That vote likely will take place at the annual NFL meetings in late March.
Clark County (Nev.) Commissioner Steve Sisolak broke the news of the relocation application Thursday on Twitter, and the NFL followed with a statement confirming it.
“Today we moved one step closer to having an NFL team to call our own,” Sisolak said in a statement.
“I am optimistically looking forward to the league meetings and hope that someday soon we will be able to welcome the Las Vegas Raiders to Nevada.”
As of late Thursday, the Raiders had not addressed the decision either on their website or on Twitter.
An investment group that includes former San Francisco 49ers and Raiders star Ronnie Lott isn’t giving up the fight to keep the team in Oakland. That group has proposed a $1.25-billion stadium on the site of the team’s current home.
“We are ready to compete,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a prepared statement. “We know that Oakland offers something that Las Vegas will never have and that is legacy and loyalty.”
In October, Nevada's legislature approved $750 million from a hotel room tax increase to help fund a stadium for the Raiders. The rest of that proposed $1.9-billion domed stadium off the Las Vegas Strip would be financed by $650 million from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, and $500 million from the Raiders and the NFL.
In accordance with league rules, the Raiders were required to wait until the end of their season to apply for relocation.
Although the specifics of the relocation application are not publicly known, the Raiders have told the league that, with the help of investment banking firm Goldman Sachs, they are capable of financing a stadium with or without Adelson.
“The Raiders are looking at this, potentially doing it without Mr. Adelson if it comes down to that,” NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman said last week after a joint meeting of the league’s stadium and finance committees. “The timing of that is still up in the air.”
Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II, who participated in that meeting, said the Raiders did not present a deal to the league that included Adelson, nor did they ask about the NFL amending any rules to allow someone with Adelson’s gaming ties to be involved with the franchise.
“The only discussion we’ve had on that subject in general is that league rules and league policies will be what they are,” Rooney said. “We haven’t been asked to change any rules, so that any ownership discussion would have to be in compliance with our current policies.”
The Raiders have told the league they intend to continue playing in Oakland while their new stadium is under construction. They have options to play the 2017 and ’18 seasons in their current home.
This is the second time since 2015 the Raiders have applied to relocate. In early 2015, the club asked to move to Los Angeles in hopes of sharing a stadium in Carson with the Chargers. By a 30-2 vote last January, owners instead approved the Rams to move from St. Louis.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told The Times last summer that he would not expect the same kind of acrimonious infighting over Las Vegas that team owners engaged in over Los Angeles.
“There won’t be,” he said. “You’ll have certain individual owners with thoughts, but you won’t see people clumping together to try to stop it — not with Las Vegas in the Raiders’ case. You’re not going to have factions and things like that. Not here.”
7:10 p.m.: This articles has been updated with more comments and details.
10:35 a.m.: This article has been updated with more details and confirmation from the NFL.
This article was originally published at 9:15 a.m.