SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A small pack of Oakland Raiders fans walked through the Arizona Biltmore wearing jerseys and tense faces. The prospect of their team relocating to Las Vegas became a sobering reality a few hours later. The NFL owners voted 31-to-1 in favor of the move, with the Miami Dolphins the lone hold out.
For Broncos CEO Joe Ellis, the Raiders going to Las Vegas brings mixed feelings.
"I do. First of all it's three teams that have moved. It's painful for people. And we're affected by two of those moves (Chargers, Raiders). They were great trips for us," Ellis said. "You get into the same routine and everything. It's been really cool, really fun. A great atmosphere. San Diego was, too. The players, the whole organization really liked going to those two venues, those two cities. So it'll be different now. But I understand the reasons and motivations."
Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the decision at a press conference. Raiders owner Mark Davis said his team's greatest strength remains its future. He indicated he would attempt to provide clarity to fans on why the situation unraveled in Oakland.
"The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA. We know that some fans will be disappointed and even angry, but we hope that they do not direct that frustration to the players, coaches and staff. We plan to play at the Coliseum in 2017 and 2018, and hope to stay there as the Oakland Raiders until the new stadium opens," Davis said. "We would love nothing more than to bring a championship back to the Bay Area."
The lack of movement on a stadium and inhabiting the facility with a baseball team appeared to doom the Raiders in Oakland. Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf asked the owners to delay to the vote to allow more time to negotiate a stadium deal at the Oakland Coliseum site. Multiple owners said Sunday that it appeared the Raiders would land the necessary 24 of 32 votes. Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos said it was a "great" idea, and that the Raiders had his support. Cowboys boss Jerry Jones predicted Monday would be an "exciting day" for Las Vegas.
Vegas stepped forward with funding that Raiders owner Mark Davis never secured in Oakland. City, county and state officials have pledged $750 million toward a new stadium. Bank of America's $650 million loan will help back the $1.9 billion stadium project.
The Raiders have played in Oakland for 45 seasons, and 22 straight. The Black Hole represented one of the Broncos' most entertaining trips. Few fans bring Oakland's fervor. Last season Oakland trumped Denver on Sunday night, a game that began with the fans in parking lot flipping off the Broncos bus.
The Broncos landed funding for their stadium 18 years ago, the vote coming as Denver defended a Super Bowl title and sat undefeated the following season.
"Those days are far and few between, of getting public support. In Las Vegas, you get $750 million put forward for the Raiders' stadium," Ellis said. "It's pretty amazing."