NFL

Could the Raiders Play in Oakland, Not Las Vegas, Again in 2020?

The Oakland Raiders are supposed to be the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020, but that could potentially not be the case. The Raiders plan for their new stadium in Vegas to open later this year and it is still on track to do so. However, if the United States government imposes restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic, then the project could be delayed. Does that mean they could play in Oakland again in 2020?

Raiders were practically forced to move from Oakland

The Raiders were located in Oakland from 1960 to 1981 before moving to Los Angeles and residing there from 1982 to 1994. However, the Raiders moved back to Oakland in 1995 and have been there since. 

Over the years, the Raiders have tried to get a new stadium in the Bay Area, according to Sporting News. Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is one of the NFL’s oldest stadiums and does not generate the high-end revenue that the NFL demands now. The Raiders have, however, been unable to secure a deal.

Las Vegas wants to bring professional sports to its city. Because of that, state and local government officials ultimately agreed to $750 million in bonds for stadium construction, according to Sporting News. A room tax in Clark County is financing the construction. The deal was pretty much too good to be true and Raiders owner Mark Davis had to go for it.

Having to stay in Oakland for 2019

Raiders fan holds up "Forever Oakland" towel.
An Oakland Raiders fan | Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

The Raiders’ lease in Oakland went through 2018 and the Vegas stadium could not be ready until this year. That meant they needed a temporary home last season. 

They failed to find a temporary home, though. So, Davis had no other choice but to keep the team in Oakland for 2019. The Raiders ultimately reached a new lease deal with Oakland for last season, according to The Mercury News.

Now that the stadium in Vegas should be ready on July 31 of this year, the team plans to be the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020. They even made it Facebook official as their social media accounts now refer to the team as the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Raiders could stay in Oakland, again, for 2020

The Las Vegas stadium project is still on schedule, so many still expect the Raiders to play in Vegas in 2020. However, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk gave a possible scenario where the Raiders could play in Oakland again this coming season.

Many businesses are shutting down due to the COVID-19 outbreak. With that, the U.S. government, or the Nevada government, could impose restrictions, similar to those in Italy and Spain, which could bring the progress on the stadium to a halt, Florio reported. 

“It’s a simple proposition,” Florio wrote. “If citizens are prohibited from leaving home only to go to the store, the pharmacy, or to get gasoline, they won’t be allowed to leave home for work. And of all the jobs that now can be done at home, working on a stadium cannot be.”

Mike Florio | Pro Football Talk

So, what does that mean for the Raiders if they cannot play in Las Vegas next season? Luckily, or unluckily, they can go back to Oakland yet again. In their lease with Oakland for the 2019 season, there is an option for 2020. If they exercise the option, their rent would increase from the $7.5 million they paid in 2019 to $10.5 million, according to The Mercury News. This was added to the lease in case the Vegas stadium deal stalled.

Not all, but some fans in Oakland are not happy with the organization for leaving. The team played in front of angry fans for pretty much the entire 2019 season. Las Vegas can be a fresh start for the franchise. However, the possibility of that fresh start being on hold for yet another year is becoming more real.