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KSL’s Unrivaled: Raiders Should Move To Salt Lake For 2019 Season

Quarterback Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates with tight end Lee Smith #86 after after a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum on December 9, 2018 in Oakland, California. The Oakland Raiders defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-21. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NFL’s Raiders could be looking for a new home earlier than expected as the city of Oakland is suing the Raiders by saying the franchise is making an “illegal move” to Las Vegas. The team may need a home for 2019, so why not Salt Lake City?

A lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the Raiders, the NFL and the other 31 clubs seeks lost revenue, money Oakland taxpayers invested in the Raiders and other costs. The suit does not ask the court to prevent the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas but asks for damages that will help pay off the approximately $80 million in debt remaining from renovations on the Coliseum.

The city says the defendants violated federal antitrust laws and the league violated its own relocation policies when the teams voted in March 2017 to approve the Raiders’ decision to move to Las Vegas.

City-by-city Breakdown: How Does Salt Lake Stack Up?

“The Raiders’ illegal move lines the pockets of NFL owners and sticks Oakland, its residents, taxpayers and dedicated fans with the bill,” Oakland city attorney Barbara Parker said in a statement. “The purpose of this lawsuit is to hold the defendants accountable and help to compensate Oakland for the damages the defendants’ unlawful actions have caused and will cause to the people of Oakland.”

The Raiders are planning to move into their new stadium in Las Vegas in 2020. The team hasn’t signed a lease for 2019. The Raiders had been in talks with Oakland about a lease for next season but they might now look for another option following the suit.

A few potential cities are Santa Clara, San Diego, Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium and even Reno, Nevada.

Why Not Salt Lake City’s Rice-Eccles Stadium?

According to the hosts of KSL’s Unrivaled, the Raiders are making a huge mistake if they go ahead and move to one of those cities for a year, because Raider Nation is already in full effect in those areas. The team has already carved out a fanbase there.

The league should seriously consider Salt Lake City for the 2019 season.

“Think about it. I am not joking at this point, and here’s why,” host Alex Kirry said. “Raiders fans are already coming out of California, and Vegas is going to have Raiders fans. For this one year, you have the opportunity to steal a ton of fans with a fan base from Salt Lake City that want [the NFL]. Get them in Salt Lake for one season.”

KSL’s Unrivaled makes the pitch for the Raiders to relocate to Salt Lake City for one year, and the reasoning is extremely sound – spend one year in an untapped market, and a Top 30 TV market at that.

Coming to Salt Lake temporarily would give the Raiders a whole new fanbase for years to come and make a whole lot of money. The NFL is extremely popular in the Beehive State, and giving Utahns from Logan to St. George a team of their own – albeit temporarily – would dramatically expand the Raiders’ potential fanbase.

It would also give the NFL a great opportunity to test a new major US metro area as a potential expansion city down the road.

The NFL has seen similar temporary moves like this in the past. In 1997, the Houston Oilers moved from Texas to Tennessee.

While they waited for their new stadium to be built in Nashville, they played one season in Memphis’ Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, and then spent the 1998 season playing at Vanderbilt Stadium.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)