San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates attempts a stiff arm, in the Chargers 13-6 win over the Oakland Raiders. Courtesy of San Diego Chargers Facebook.

Any hopes that the Raiders would turn their eyes to San Diego in wake of the Chargers’ departure all but evaporated Monday when National Football League owners conditionally approved the Oakland franchise’s move to Las Vegas.

The Raiders will play in the Bay Area city for two more seasons before heading to Nevada, the team announced. It’s the third franchise relocation green-lighted by the NFL in a little more than a year, including the Chargers and Rams to Los Angeles.

“The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA,” owner Mark Davis said. “We know that some fans will be disappointed and even angry, but we hope that they do not direct that frustration to the players, coaches and staff.”

Very slim hopes were raised that San Diego could provide an alternative destination for the Raiders when development of his Las Vegas plans hit some snags. Such a result would have been ironic given local fans’ antipathy toward their Northern California rival.

The Vegas hang-ups appeared to have been ironed out over the past couple of months. About $750 million of the planned $1.7 billion domed stadium will be financed with public funds.

Like Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos in San Diego, Davis had for years demanded a new stadium for his franchise. League officials recently rejected an 11th-hour proposal from Oakland officials, clearing the way for the relocation vote.

With the Chargers leaving, a group of San Diego investors is circulation petitions to turn the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley into a development called “Soccer City.”

It would include commercial buildings, housing and a hybrid stadium for soccer and college football. The group has also applied for a Major League Soccer expansion franchise.

If the group collects enough valid signatures, the City Council would have to either approve the project or place it before voters.

—City News Service

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