ESPN Staff Writer
LAS VEGAS — The private jet had just taken off from Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport when Mark Davis took a glance out the window to his left.
Down below, directly across the street from the airport on Tropicana Avenue in the middle of this gambling mecca, the Oakland Raiders owner spied the 42-acre plot of empty desert that could hold the answer to his franchise’s perilous future.
Davis was silent before closing the window shade, sitting back and taking a deep breath.
Flirtation with Las Vegas as a new home for the Raiders had turned into a full-blown romance a few hours earlier — during a meeting of the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee on April 28 — when Davis pledged to give $500 million toward the construction of a $1.4 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium near the Strip.
“We have made a commitment to Las Vegas at this point in time, and that’s where it stands,” Davis told a packed media conference at UNLV’s Stan Fulton Building. “If Las Vegas can come through with what we’ve been talking about, and we can come to do a deal here, then we’re going to be the Las Vegas Raiders.”
The heart of Silver and Blackdom taking up a permanent residence in Sin City? What seemed a pipe dream weeks earlier had new, neon life breathed into it with Davis’ declaration.
So long as certain parameters were met.
In an exclusive ESPN.com in-flight interview from Las Vegas to Oakland, where Davis returned from the meeting for the NFL draft, he expanded upon his reasons why Southern Nevada holds a certain appeal over the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area; how he has tried to make it work in Oakland; and why, as he told Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, he hopes to turn the Silver State into the Silver and Black State.