At first glance, the Oakland Raiders’ decision to relocate to Las Vegas in 2020 leaves another bad mark on the National Football League and commissioner Roger Goodell. The Raiders are the third team in the last 14 months to file for relocation and be approved, joining the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, who departed St. Louis and San Diego, respectively.
The relocation of an NFL franchise should always be the last resort, as an entire city and fan base will be abandoned — not to mention that the players under contract potentially have to move their families to another destination.
For the Raiders to leave Oakland especially, given how the organization arguably has the most loyal and passionate fan base in the sport, just seems like an unwise decision. But from a business standpoint, a move to Las Vegas makes sense in many ways.
As it currently stands, there are only five teams that reside in states with no income tax. When the Raiders officially move, they will be the sixth such organization with that benefit.
This is especially helpful when recruiting players over the coming years. Playing in California warrants an astronomical 13.3 percent income tax — the highest in the league — which certainly puts teams in the state at a disadvantage when trying to lure free agents in the offseason.
Considering general manager Reggie McKenzie’s expertise with the salary cap and the elimination of a tax altogether, the Raiders figure to be very successful landing top free agents moving forward, should they choose to go that route when constructing future rosters.
When it’s all said and done, the Raiders will join the National Hockey League’s Golden Knights as the only two major professional sports franchises in Las Vegas. This will allow the Raiders to capitalize on a brand new market, rather than sharing the Bay Area with the San Francisco 49ers and San Francisco Giants. It also enables fans from Southern California to make an easy drive or flight to attend home games, so it’s not like the majority of fans at the new stadium will be tourists visiting for the first time.
It was clear from the start that principal owner and managing general partner Mark Davis had no interest in building a new stadium in Oakland after the city’s multiple unviable proposals to retain the team.
After the failed attempt to share a stadium with the Chargers in Carson, Calif., Davis zeroed in on Las Vegas and was able to secure a record-breaking $750 million in public funding, along with an additional $250 million in maintenance over the next 30 years.
Because of his efforts, the Raiders’ days of sharing an outdated coliseum with Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics are numbered. The Silver and Black will soon get the world class stadium that they deserve, and it couldn’t come at a better time with superstars Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack just entering their primes.
It’s disappointing that the franchise had to relocate from Oakland for the second time in its storied history, but the Raiders are trending in the right direction and have an extremely bright future as they inch closer to Las Vegas.