John Locher / AP
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 | 2 a.m.
The Raiders are all ours, and in the understatement of the century, that’s a reason to celebrate.
Like many other locals I’m not a fan of Raider Nation. But, also like many locals, I sure love Las Vegas. So, when residents wonder if it’s possible to root for both their favorite NFL team — the Pittsburgh Steelers here — and the Raiders at the same time, there’s a simple answer: Why not?
NFL owners on Monday approved the Raiders' relocation from Oakland to begin play in the 2020 season at the $1.9 billion domed stadium that is using $750 million in public funding through a small increase in the hotel tax. That’s great money spent — we’ve been taking money off visitors for years, after all.
You won’t find me wearing silver and black makeup on Sundays and pretending to frighten the opposing team while cheering from the famed black hole. But, from a distance, I hope they win.
I hope the franchise is prosperous to the tune of residents having a better life, everyone from ticket takers to hotel workers who rely on tips to feed their families. I hope the Raiders win games because a winning franchise makes everyone feel better about themselves and the city they call home.
This is our city — mine, yours, and now, Mark Davis’ Raiders. If I learned anything about the people here from spending my entire life in Southern Nevada, it’s that we take care of our own. If you are representing us, we want you to succeed.
The perception that Las Vegas is a town controlled by gambling is outdated. Monday, with the NFL’s approval of the Raiders setting up shop here, the opposite view was finally validated. Remember, the NFL despised Las Vegas so much as recently as two years ago that it forbade Tony Romo to speak at a fantasy football convention on the Strip.
Sure, gambling is still prevalent. And without gambling the city would crumble. But there is also world-class shopping, shows, fine dining and great entertainment. Gambling, which is so regulated in the modern-day Las Vegas that NFL owners didn’t blink, isn’t the No. 1 option for many visitors.
We’ve grown up, Las Vegas. We’ve grown up together. Now, it’s time to grow with the Raiders.
While we still have the small-town feel from my childhood in the 1980s and early ’90s, we’ve slowly transformed into a major metro capable of joining other cities in this elite fraternity. Think about: 32 cities have NFL teams, including us. Unreal.
We are bursting at the seams with 2 million residents and projections of more to come. Imagine how the city will look in 10 years with the Raiders as one of the cornerstones? What about in 20 years? Imagine a Super Bowl being hosted here (has to happen, right?), or a Raiders Super Bowl championship parade on the Strip.
The possibilities are endless, and that’s exciting.
There are many of us native Las Vegans whose pride for the 702 is unmatched. It’s a great place to call home, raise a family and spend a Saturday night. We have churches, parks and a strong sense of community. We would take the shirt off our back to take care of one of our own and want nothing in return except the satisfaction that Las Vegas was a better place.
Monday was a day to feel good about us because Las Vegas’ credibility reached an unexpected level. The NFL, finally, loved us back. Now, it’s time to love the Raiders.