The NFL officially announced on Wednesday that the 2020 NFL draft will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mark Davis, the owner of the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders, said,
“We believe the draft will be the kickoff to our inaugural season. Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world and will provide a tremendous experience for the NFL and its fans.”
The Raiders, who currently play in Oakland, California, will begin their first season in Las Vegas in September of 2020. The NFL held its draft in New York City for decades before making the decision to start holding it in various cities around the United States. The 2015 and 2016 drafts were held in Chicago, the 2017 draft took place in Philadelphia and the most recent draft was held in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys. The 2019 draft will take place in Nashville, Tennessee.
Kansas City and Cleveland were among the other cities vying for the rights to the 2020 draft. Cleveland’s bid was a partnership with the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is located in nearby Canton, Ohio. The Browns issued a statement that said,
“We remain committed to hosting an NFL draft in Northeast Ohio and will continue to work closely with the NFL to identify the ideal opportunity for our fans, our city and the league. There are many teams and cities across the NFL who are capable of creating an exceptional draft experience for fans, including the Titans and Raiders, and we are still hopeful we may ultimately share that honor in the future.”
The draft will be held in Las Vegas from April 23-25, 2020. NFL senior vice president of events Peter O’Reilly said,
“The events in the draft are going to take place on and around the Las Vegas Strip. We’ll take advantage of some of the large spaces around the Strip as well as some of the iconic locations that will provide an incredible backdrop for the draft. We’re certainly highlighting the Raiders’ new stadium that will be just months away from occupying the start of the 2020 season.”
While the Raiders will finish out the current season in Oakland and move to Las Vegas in 2020, where they will play their home games in 2019 is still undecided.
On Tuesday, the city of Oakland announced that it was filing a federal lawsuit against the Raiders and the NFL. The Raiders currently do not have a lease to play anywhere next season, including their current home, the Oakland Coliseum. The lawsuit may ultimately force the team to leave Oakland a year ahead of schedule.
The Raiders announced Wednesday that the city of Oakland’s decision to sue the team means the team’s offer to pay $7.5 million to play at the Coliseum next season is now off the table. So, it remains to be seen where the Raiders will call home in 2019.
The city’s lawsuit does not seek to block the team’s move to Las Vegas. The city is trying to get additional financial compensation and damages for revenue that will be lost when the team leaves. The city is seeking restoration of the money invested in the Coliseum by taxpayers.
Oakland has an additional $80 million debt left over from renovations to the facility. The lawsuit is claiming that the Raiders and the league are violating antitrust laws by deciding to move the franchise out of town.
Davis had previously said that the Raiders would not play in Oakland if the city ever filed a lawsuit. The team played in the Coliseum from 1966 until 1981 before moving to Los Angeles. The team moved back to Oakland in 1995, and it has played in the Coliseum ever since. The team’s last scheduled home game in the Coliseum is set for Christmas Eve, when the Raiders will host the Denver Broncos.
Davis said the Raiders have “a number of options” when it comes to finding a home venue ahead of next season. When asked if remaining in Oakland is a possibility, he replied, “As I said, emotionally, you know, I don’t want to pay for my own lawsuit, but for the fans, it’s something that I have to think about.”
San Diego, which used to be the home city of the now-Los Angeles Chargers, and Santa Clara, where the San Francisco 49ers play, are potential options for the Raiders.
There is also an outside chance the Raiders move to Las Vegas a year early and play at Sam Boyd Stadium, which currently houses UNLV football. San Antonio is another potential option, but Davis is reportedly down on the idea due to the turf surface at the Alamodome.
Roger Goodell said that the league would try to find a resolution on the Raiders’ 2019 stadium situation between January and February.
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