LAS VEGAS — The Oakland Raiders‘ impending move to Las Vegas by 2020 took another step closer to reality with Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony, an event attended by close to 1,000 guests, officials and media.
The event had the glitz of a headliner on the Strip, with Wayne Newton and Carlos Santana in the front row and George Lopez the emcee.
It had the power of the NFL in owners Robert Kraft, Stan Kroenke, Dean Spanos and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell — and the awe of Raiders legends Howie Long, Fred Biletnikoff, Jim Plunkett, Tom Flores and Cliff Branch.
It also featured a touching tribute to the 58 victims of the Oct. 1 shooting with streams of light to the sky.
“Only in Vegas can you turn a groundbreaking ceremony into a show,” Goodell said.
Said Raiders owner Mark Davis: “Not wanting to disrespect the fans of Oakland … we love the fans up there and hopefully they follow us here.”
The Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas was a plan years in the making that began when NFL owners shot down their plans to move to Los Angeles.
Shortly after, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson announced his interest in helping build a domed stadium on the UNLV campus that could be shared by a professional team and the school. Lobbying began, and the Nevada Legislature approved a tax increase to contribute $750 million to the project.
Adelson later withdrew his multimillion-dollar pledge from the project, and the Raiders chose a different site for the stadium. UNLV and the Raiders will still share the stadium, but the joint-use agreement is pending.
Contractors have a tight deadline, as they plan to complete the stadium in time for the 2020 season.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.