The Las Vegas Raiders are one step closer to becoming a reality after funding was approved to build a near $2billion stadium in 'Sin City'.
Three weeks after Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval met with Raiders owner Mark Davis to discuss relocating the team from Oakland to Las Vegas, the Nevada Senate approved $750million in public funds for a proposed 65,000-seat roofed arena.
The Nevada Senate approved the bill by a 16-5 vote and it will head to the state Assembly on Thursday, according to reports.
Sandoval called a special session that began on Monday in Carson City. Lawmakers then voted on the bill that would help finance a $1.9bn stadium to lure the Raiders. While critics of the bill say it is "deeply flawed," local leaders had already approved public money to be used for the stadium project.
Casino mogul Shel Adelson, who is facilitating the potential move to one of two Vegas sites, had demanded city and state governments to commit at least $750m to build a stadium that could entice Davis to move the Raiders from Oakland.
The public money would come from new revenue raised from a hotel tax.
Davis has already pledged $500m toward a move to Vegas and the Raiders filed a trademark application for "Las Vegas Raiders" in August.
"I personally believe that if we lose this opportunity, it will be one of the most heart-breaking mistakes we've could have ever made," Steve Wynn of Wynn Resorts told the Nevada Legislature.
NFL owners would still have to approve a move, and some owners are reportedly wary of working with Adelson.
In another potential obstacle, Adelson, who is one of the richest people in the world, expects to get some sort of share in the team in return for his contribution, but Davis does not want to sell any percentage of the team.
Despite the progress made in Las Vegas, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf hopes to keep the Raiders in Oakland, but has refused to commit public money to a new stadium in the Bay Area.
The city is still paying off $95m in stadium-related debt from when Oakland convinced the Raiders to move back following a 13-year stint in Los Angeles.
"Like so many of the team's diehard fans, I believe the Raiders and Oakland have a shared identity and destiny," she said in a statement. "And keeping the team in Oakland where they were born and raised has immeasurable value to the fans, the team, the league and the city."