The Oakland Raiders have taken another step towards a potential move to Las Vegas. The franchise, which has been based in California since its inaugural season in 1960, has filed for three trademarks for “Las Vegas Raiders” this week, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.
The Raiders are committed to Oakland for the 2016 NFL season, but the team’s future remains unclear. After missing out on the chance to return to Los Angeles, the Raiders signed a one-year lease to continue playing at the O.co Coliseum, one of the oldest stadiums in the NFL. The franchise, however, continues to explore its options for a permanent home, with Las Vegas at the forefront.
Owner Mark Davis began looking at Las Vegas as a possible destination in January. He met with the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee on April 28, offering $500 million toward building a football stadium in "Sin City." Bringing the Raiders to Las Vegas would center on an expansion and upgrade of the Las Vegas Convention Center, costing $1.4 billion. Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Majestic Realty are also looking to back the project, though $750 million of public money could be required.
The potential move has received plenty of support from local officials. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman told ESPN Radio’s Capital Games podcast in May that the Raiders will move to the city “if Nevada handles this properly." Nevada Senator Harry Reid has also expressed hope the Raiders make Las Vegas their new home.
“I think it would be great if the Raiders came to Las Vegas,” Reid said via the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I think it would be great that the most successful convention and visitors authority got the help that they need. So I hope they both get help. We’ll see.”
But filing for a trademark doesn’t mean the Raiders are going anywhere. The Chargers did the same this year for the phrase “Los Angeles Chargers,” and they are staying in San Diego for the time being after their unsuccessful attempt to move to L.A.
Las Vegas currently remains without a team in any of the four major sports, though that will soon change. In June, the NHL granted the city an expansion team for the 2017-18 season.
Should the Raiders get the necessary finances to go to Las Vegas, the potential move still has plenty of hurdles. The league has made an effort to distance itself from gambling, which means the Raiders could have trouble securing the 24 votes for relocation.
Goodman, however, thinks legalized gambling in Las Vegas should be a non-issue.
“We’ve had years and years of experience in how to set regulations and enforce them. But I really don’t believe it’s going to be an issue for us at all,” Goodman told ESPN in May. “At this point, the first step is to work through those numbers to make sure we can get a stadium built, do it high quality and most importantly in the right location.”
In addition to Las Vegas, the Raiders have also explored San Antonio as a potential home for the future. Davis has insisted that he’s interested in keeping the team in Oakland, but he’ll look to relocate if the Raiders can’t get a new stadium.