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Chargers in Limbo as Raiders Inch Closer to Move

New Las Vegas Stadium

The chances of the Oakland Raiders moving to Las Vegas appear to be increasing, but the status of the San Diego Chargers remains a mystery. 

The next few months will be crucial for the NFL as it decides the fates of both teams. With the Raiders’ season ending last week in a playoff loss to the Houston Texans, owner Mark Davis is primed to up his effort to finalize a move to Las Vegas.

Davis is reportedly unlikely to submit his application to relocate the franchise at an upcoming meeting with other owners. Yet, there is a growing sense that Davis will get what he needs–specifically approval from 24 of the league’s 32 owners–to move the Raiders. More from The Washington Post:

There is less urgency for the owners to act in the Raiders’ case, given that owner Mark Davis has said he would keep the team in Oakland while a new stadium was built in Las Vegas. But Davis does appear to be winning support from the owners for his plan to relocate his franchise to Nevada.

“I do think the Raiders will end up in Vegas,” a high-ranking official with an NFL team said.

Davis is expected to address other owners at Wednesday’s meeting. Davis is not likely to submit a formal relocation application at this meeting, a person close to the situation said. The Raiders are free to submit such an application now that their season has ended with last weekend’s playoff loss to the Houston Texans. But that is a mere formality at this point. Davis has said repeatedly that he plans to take his team to Vegas.

It is not surprising at this point that a potential move to Las Vegas gaining traction. Some in the NFL seemed to hope that Oakland would step up with a proposal to keep the team in town, but plans for a new stadium and related development on the land surrounding the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum do not seem to have resonated with the NFL or the Raiders.

If the perception that Oakland is not a viable alternative sticks with enough owners, support for a move will likely grow. Even if the Las Vegas issue is resolved, the NFL still faces uncertainty surrounding the Chargers, who are deciding between whether to stay in San Diego or exercise their option to relocate to Los Angeles.

The owners have already signed off lease terms between the Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams, an important step in allowing the two teams to utilize a new stadium in Inglewood, CA that will open in 2019. That does not necessarily guarantee a move, which has been evident in recent weeks as the Chargers and the NFL mull whether a reported offer of a combined $375 million in funds from the City of San Diego, San Diego County, and San Diego State University is enough to renew stadium talks in San Diego.

For Chargers owner Dean Spanos and the NFL, that question looms large as the team approaches the expiration of its option. More from The Post:

The Chargers do not intend to seek an extension of Sunday’s deadline, according to one person close to the situation. That person added, however, that it’s possible a decision would not be announced until Tuesday, given the long holiday weekend. It’s also possible that the league could intervene to extend the deadline.

There has been a strong belief within the league recently that the Chargers likely are headed to L.A. Voters in San Diego overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure in November for public funding for a new stadium there. There also has been ongoing speculation that the league might come up with some creative financing measures to attempt to help the Chargers to stay put, and those who know Spanos say it would be a difficult and emotional decision for him to move the team. But it also might end up being the only decision that makes sense financially, they say.

The original terms of the Chargers’ option allow it to be assumed by the Raiders as early as January 16 if the team decides to stay in San Diego. What remains to be seen is if the NFL could decide to tweak that language, espeically with the Raiders focused on their proposed move to Las Vegas and a new stadium in San Diego likely to take years to come to fruition.

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August Publications