After months of reports, it appears now that the possibility has become a reality. The Oakland Raiders, one of the NFL and hip-hop's most beloved football clubs, is moving to Las Vegas, Nevada.
The team, once known for a rugged, uncompromising style of play on the field, saw itself in hip-hop's then-rebellious spirit, especially for Californians. N.W.A. wore the Raiders' iconic silver and black colorway and pirate logo while trailblazing as gangsta rap pioneers, and other rap legends like Sway Calloway, Too $hort, Keak Da Sneak, and others have all professed themselves as loyal fans.
Team owner Mark Davis had planned to move the team since April 2016, telling ESPN that he couldn't complete a deal with area legislators to keep the team in Oakland. The Raiders have now committed $500 toward the relocation project, and a hotel tax passed by the Nevada Legislature will bring another $750 million.
Ice Cube, who directed an ESPN '30 for 30' documentary about the team called Straight Outta LA, told Sports Illustrated in January that the NFL should pony up the money for a new stadium for Oakland. But he has also said that he was a Raiders fan for life, even if the team moved to Las Vegas.
"The Raiders, wherever they go, I'm gonna follow," he said on Rich Eisen Show, proclaiming himself as the "president of Raider Nation." He has said that he's been a fan since the team won Super Bowl XV against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Davis said he plans to keep the team in Oakland for the next two seasons, but they'll eventually move to Las Vegas and share a 65,000-seat, $1.9 billion domed stadium, scheduled to open in 2020, with UNLV. Still, in a prepared statement, Davis acknowledged the anticipated anger from loyal fans, but offered the solace of the team's legacy being rooted in the Californian city.
"The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA," the statement read. "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. We would love nothing more than to bring a championship back to the Bay Area."
The Raiders are known for having one of the most loyal fan bases in the NFL, sticking with the organization through thick and thin. After a long stretch of poor play, the loyal Oakland fan base had reason for optimism after this 2016-2017 season, when quarterback Derek Carr had an MVP-caliber season before getting injured in the season's final weeks. The team finished the year with a 12-4 record before losing to the Houston Texans in the wild card playoffs. The team has already relocated twice, though those were moves within California: they started in Oakland, moved to Los Angeles in 1982, and moved back to Oakland in 1995.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the NFL owners voted to approve the move in league meetings on Monday. Out of the 32 teams, the Miami Dolphins were the only team to vote against the move; only 24 votes were needed to approve the change.