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Sam Boyd Stadium Pitched for Raiders; Oakland Pleas its Case

New Las Vegas Stadium

Now that the Oakland Raiders have filed to relocate to Las Vegas, officials in both cities are making their pitches to the team. 

At this point, it is not expected that a final decision on the Raiders will be made until the league meetings March. It has been increasingly evident, however, that the NFL is more closely considering the proposal from owner Mark Davis, which calls for the Raiders to move into a new 65,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas.

In order to be finalized, 24 of 32 owners will have to approve the move, but timing is an issue that is on the minds of many. The $1.9 billion stadium project in Las Vegas is not expected to be ready for the Raiders until 2020, putting the team in a position to make a decision about at least three seasons worth of action.

Thus far, all signs have pointed to the Raiders staying at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum through at least the 2019 season. Some in Las Vegas, however, are arguing that Sam Boyd Stadium–home to UNLV football–could be renovated to accommodate the Raiders on a temporary basis.

The 40,000-seat stadium lacks many modern amenities, and it remains to be seen if the facility is suitable to satisfy the Raiders on a short-term basis when it comes to issues beyond the fixed seating capacity. Challenges in making some of the necessary behind-the scenes changes to Sam Boyd Stadium leave some doubting that the Raiders will use it for regular season action, but UNLV athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy says the university will be ready if the Raiders coming calling. More from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Clark County commissioner Steve Sisolak doesn’t see the Raiders coming early to play at the outdated home of the Rebels. It’s been reported that the Raiders plan on signing one-year leases to play at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum until they’re ready to move to Las Vegas.

“Sam Boyd Stadium is not suitable for NFL games,” Sisolak said in a Thursday interview with the Review-Journal. “The capacity is too low. The infrastructure is too old. It’s not up to current standards in terms of television, which is extremely important in the NFL.”

Kunzer-Murphy said the university would be willing to make upgrades at Sam Boyd Stadium to accommodate the Raiders’ needs if the franchise decides to come early.

“Nobody does it better than Las Vegas; we can do things that people say are impossible,” said Kunzer-Murphy, who will step down as UNLV athletic director on June 30. “That’s what I love about our city so much.

Of course, many in Oakland believe that the Raiders should be sticking around longer. In the aftermath of the decision by the Raiders to file to relocate, officials continue to tout a proposal that calls for a new stadium to be constructed as part of a larger redevelopment of the Coliseum site.

In December, the City of Oakland and Alameda County conducted separate votes to approve a term sheet for a $1..25 billion stadium project. Under the terms of that deal, Oakland would contribute land and infrastructure related costs, with the development and stadium being funded by contributions from the Raiders, the NFL, and an investment group that includes Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott.

That proposal has not gained much traction with the NFL or the Raiders but, even in the aftermath of the team filing to relocate, the plan’s backers say that Oakland is not ready to step aside. More from the AP (Via the Reno Gazette-Journal):

“We are in this game and we are playing to win,” Lott’s group said in a statement. The statement said the Raiders’ filing Thursday was expected and done to “keep its options open in Las Vegas.”

The Raiders have been seeking to replace their dilapidated home for years. The Coliseum has suffered from sewage backups and other infrastructure problems. It’s also the only remaining NFL stadium to also be home to a baseball team — the Athletics — and lacks many of the modern, money-making features of new stadiums.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has been negotiating with Davis and investors to find a new home for the team in the city but has said public financing is not an option. She and other local boosters support the bid by Lott’s group to keep the team on Oakland.

“Only Oakland brings the Raiders and the NFL a competitive stadium proposal, along with legacy and loyalty,” Schaaf said in a prepared statement.

It was revealed on Friday that the Raiders had filed to relocate. That was perhaps the most significant development for the Las Vegas proposal since last fall, when the State of Nevada approved $750 million in public funds for a stadium project.

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