Raiders make it official: They ask NFL to move to Las Vegas

We knew it was coming. Even so, today’s a big day.

“It’s big. It means that it’s now, finally upon us. It’s real,” said ESPN Las Vegas’ Mitch Moss. The show they had planned for today? They threw it out the window, he tells me, when the Raiders news broke this morning.

“Today, now January 2017, I would bet that the owners are going to say, ‘yes, let’s take them to Las Vegas’,” said Moss.

The league confirmed this morning that application had been filed. “The application will be reviewed in the coming weeks by league staff and the Stadium and Finance committees,” reads an NFL statement.

RELATED LINK | Raiders file paperwork to relocate to Las Vegas

In order for the Raiders to move, 24 of the league’s 32 owners have to give their permission.

“I don’t think they’d have filed the paperwork had they not thought that they had a good opportunity and a good chance for it,” said Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, who broke the news this morning on Twitter the Raiders had filed.

“I think it’s a great day in Las Vegas,” Sisolak told me. “I’ve gotten dozens of phone calls since the news broke about their officially filing. I’ve got people asking me how they can line up to buy tickets.”

The application is the latest milestone in a courtship between Nevada and the Raiders that has been a year-in-the-making. First through the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, then through a hard-fought special legislative session, the Raiders, along with stadium backer, billionaire Sheldon Adelson, have managed to win the support of $750 million in public money that would make a proposed $2 billion dollar Raiders stadium possible. The Raiders and Adelson are financing the rest, although there have been reports the team and the billionaire have yet to reach terms. The Raiders have said the investment bank Goldman Sachs is ready to step in if Adelson drops out.

“Something weird is going to have to happen for Vegas not to get the Raiders,” says insider Ray Ratto, with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

A last-ditch proposal to keep the team in Oakland, headed up by former Raider Ronnie Lott, appears to have landed with a thud at the NFL. However, Ratto cautions Las Vegas is not a done deal, yet.

"Oakland’s not out of the picture until the votes are in,” he tells me. “There don’t seem to be a lot of obstacles left to Vegas except for a couple of owners who might vote against it on geographical grounds or old time gambling grounds. But the sense I get is there are not nine of those out there.”

Even at the last place, you’d expect – a local Dallas Cowboys bar – late morning customers having a pick-me-up were pumped at the prospect of joining the NFL.

“I can’t wait to see a live game,” bar patron Donald Edwards told me. “I was born out here in Vegas. It’s going to be awesome to see a Vegas team.”

Owners are scheduled to meet in March, but Ratto says they could meet earlier if they want to.

As for Oakland, Ratto sizes up the prospect of losing the Raiders, which has happened before. The team spent 12 years in Los Angeles.

“I think there’s a sense of fait accompli here. There’s a sense of we’ve done this before,” says Ratto.

He adds, “at least Vegas isn’t so far away that we can never see them.”

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