By Alex Dobuzinskis
(Reuters) – Officials in Oakland, in a bid to keep their National Football League team the Raiders from moving to Las Vegas, have voted to work with a group seeking to build a $1.3 billion stadium, according to local media.
Raiders owner Mark Davis, who is dissatisfied with the team’s aging Coliseum stadium in Oakland, has for much of this year pursued a possible move to Las Vegas.
But officials in Oakland want to keep the Raiders, who moved to Los Angeles in 1982 before returning to Oakland in 1995 Their vote on Tuesday represents their most significant step to date to give the team a new home.
Retired NFL player Ronnie Lott is leading an effort to raise money to build a $1.3 billion stadium in Oakland, a city of more than 400,000 people across the bay from San Francisco.
The Oakland City Council voted to pursue negotiations with Lott’s group, according to local station KGO-TV, which also said the Alameda County Board of Supervisors had voted to join the effort.
The plan calls for Oakland to invest $200 million in infrastructure and site preparation for the stadium project and provide land worth another $150 million, according to a City Council report.
The city also would provide money from future taxes on economic activity tied to the stadium, while the NFL, the Raiders and Lott’s group, which includes the firm Fortress Investment Group, LLC, would pay for the rest of the project.
The Raiders organization could not be reached for comment early on Wednesday.
Lott acknowledged to KGO-TV that his group does not yet have the support of Davis, the Raiders owner.
“I think we’ll get his blessing,” Lott said to KGO-TV.
A relocation by the Raiders to Las Vegas, if approved by other NFL owners, would represent a significant change in policy for the league. The NFL, along with some other major U.S. sports leagues, has shied away from the gambling center because of the potential for sports bettors to taint competition.
In an attempt to draw the Raiders, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican, in October signed a bill to increase hotel taxes to help raise $750 million for a new $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium that would be constructed for the team in Las Vegas.
Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has played a leading role in negotiations to woo the team to Nevada.
(Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)