The story broke late last night. Two likely investors in a major stadium planned for Las Vegas retreated because they weren’t sure the Raiders were a good fit. Without going into too much detail, the first guy owns the Sands hotel. He was allegedly miffed at team owner Mark Davis, possibly because of a lowball lease offer of $1 per year.
The second investor, Goldman Sachs, presumably got weary of being demonized in the press during an election year and chose to take a refreshing nap on its mountain of cash.
Now I don’t want to overreact, because these could all be negotiating ploys, but let’s assume for the moment that the Las Vegas Raiders aren’t going to happen. Because the usual suspects are lining up to court the Silver and Black.
Most of these suitors are comically ill-prepared. For instance, a columnist in San Diego thinks the Raiders should occupy the same roach motel the Chargers abandoned last month. Hey fathead, if you’re going to appeal to an NFL team, an excellent first step is not to insult the owner in the first paragraph, especially when you look like an assistant manager at a Circle K. And judging the way print news is going, you might want to dust off the resume because the graveyard shift is calling. Now get a mop and clean up the mess in front of the Icee machine.
For that matter, you might want to scratch off Oakland. It’s not impossible, but I was a season ticket holder up there. I completely understand why the Raiders want new digs and building new arenas in California is damn near impossible.
This leaves a handful of places left across the country. Portland is intriguing, but has never been home to anything bigger than the NBA. San Antonio has a stadium, Texas loves football and Dallas owner Jerry Jones was a longtime friend of the late Al Davis. Houston might not be OK with that, though.
I liked St. Louis, but let’s be real: That city lost two NFL franchises.
Now that I live in Florida, I often think the NFL is curious about Orlando. Problem is, I’m literally two hours by car from the Jaguars and Buccaneers. Both teams aren’t that popular. I can’t see Jacksonville and Tampa letting go of central Florida.
It’s when I started thinking about Oklahoma City when the obvious solution hit me.
London has 8.7 million people, which would make it the league’s largest city (New York is at 8.4 million). There’s a stadium there already put to use by the NFL. The league has worked tirelessly to accommodate teams to play there. Local politicians want the NFL. There are now what, four games in London every year? That’s half a regular season as it is.
In those games, the league often schedules two horrible teams to play. Wembley Stadium is still filled to the brim.
And frankly, it’s significantly safer and less smoggier than another international option: Mexico City.
This is not a prediction as much as it is an argument for a better option. Simply put, there is too much money on the table for the Raiders not to consider moving there. It makes more fiscal sense to expand Raider Nation to Raider World than it would to move from one horrible stadium to another.