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Raiders take a big step toward Vegas, but many hurdles await

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The Raiders took a significant step this week in solidifying their future in Las Vegas, as both houses of the Nevada Legislature passed a bill to put $750 million in hotel tax money toward the funding for a new stadium to used by the Raiders. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval will sign it on Monday.

But as the NFL owners prepare to descend upon Houston for the Fall meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, don't expect any acceleration from a league perspective despite this week's action. It's not a meeting where decisions will be made, but rather a chance for owners to gather information and discuss all sides of the issue. There is plenty of work to be done.

That said, there is plenty to be learned from what happened this week, as sources involved explained.

To complete the process of a move with a new stadium, there are three parts: The financing, the business deal, then the 24 votes from the owners. A big part of step one is done, which is huge, though there is the rest of the funding to figure out. But the business deal -- including who gets what sources of revenue, how the public recovers its money, what an investor such as casino magnate Sheldon Adelson receives, who gets the PSL money -- still needs to be worked out.

This week was a significant step, but just a step. While the Raiders were working on securing funding, the league was doing its due diligence, as well. Studies on market strength, gauging what will happen over the next 20-30 years, etc.

If the business deal comes along fast, then the December meetings in Dallas could be interesting. If there is support, owner Mark Davis could ink a relocation application late this year. Vegas is possible. But not imminent.

"Now, when I came into the league 23 years ago, I probably wouldn't have supported a team being in Las Vegas," influential Patriots owner Robert Kraft told NFL Network's Stacey Dales on Sunday. "I think the way things have evolved and the way things are at with the internet and access that everyone has to everything, I think this would be a positive move for the Raiders if they can't stay in their home territory."

Meanwhile, the market in Oakland has changed a bit over the past two years. Thanks in part to tech overflow from San Francisco, owners reached this week describe it as a budding market with a lot of potential. There are corporate investments, real estate, and youth. Lease rates are up, vacancies are down. Some wonder if leaving a big market for a small market makes sense.

This explains why NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently said "I think we can do it in Oakland."

But the fact that there is no current proposal from the city adds to the frustration.

"Look, Oakland, I don't understand why they're not jumping in there," Kraft said.

Late last night, Raiders owner Mark Davis told ESPN.com that if a deal gets done in Vegas, he expects to honor his lease and spend the next two years in Oakland while a stadium is built. But another source added caution, saying no decision has been made. They might want to avoid a Cleveland-style lame-duck fan base situation. Yet it could turn out the cost of moving a franchise for two years to a temporary home is less than cost of an embattled fan base and potential loss of season-ticket support.

Of course, there are other issues with Las Vegas. How does the league's stance on gambling affect things? Is there worry about having a partner such as Adelson? What if Oakland steps up with a proposal by the end of the year?

The Raiders did take a big step this week, but many more will need to come before a move to Las Vegas can happen.

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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