One Step Closer To “Las Vegas Raiders”…

Mark Davis clearly wants to move the Oakland Raiders to a place with a new stadium because he is – rightly – convinced that Oakland is not going to build one for him. For the moment, it appears that Las Vegas is his preferred landing spot. Last week, the process of getting approval and funding for such a venture cleared a hurdle. The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee voted unanimously to recommend that $750M be approved for a stadium in Las Vegas and that the money would be raised by an increase in the Las Vegas hotel tax.

This recommendation – unanimous or not – is not nearly the end of the road here. The state legislature has to be convinced that all of this is a good idea and it would then need to pass legislation to make it all happen. Nonetheless, this is a positive step because most folks reporting on this matter have thought that a negative recommendation from this committee would be the end of the line for such an idea.

The broad outline of the financing for a new stadium in Las Vegas breaks down like this:

    $750M from the increased hotel room tax
    $650M from Sheldon Adelson – CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp
    $500M from the Raiders/NFL

This “step forward” in Nevada is interesting because in about 7 weeks, voters in San Diego will be asked to approve or deny a proposal there to raise the hotel tax in the city by 4% in order to provide funding for a stadium there that will keep the Chargers in that city. One of the major differences between the situation in these two cities is that San Diego does not currently have a local mogul who is willing to pony up $650M for the stadium. I have not seen any polling data from San Diego with regard to this referendum issue but given the fact that the Chargers and the city have been at loggerheads over a variety of new stadium proposals for about 15 years now, I think it is safe to say that there is significant resistance to the idea of public funding for a new stadium there.

Another wild-card in all of this is the NFL owners’ meeting that is scheduled for January 2017. Last year, the owners gave the Chargers an out; if they do not get approval for a new stadium in San Diego, they have league approval to move to LA and be tenants in the new stadium complex that is being built there by the Rams. However, the Chargers’ option to do that expires sometime in February of next year so there is not much time for “regrouping” in San Diego – or in Las Vegas for that matter – if the government processes go down to defeat. Moreover, the NFL owners have to approve the movement of any team to a new city and such approvals are not always slam-dunks.

Last year, the Chargers and Raiders had a proposal to the owners that the two of them would “go halfsies” on a new stadium in Carson CA and that the teams would be partners in that venture. The owners told them to forget that idea because they put the Rams in LA, gave the Chargers a one-year option to go and join the Rams there and told the Raiders to go pound sand. The NFL owners are a group of 32 very rich folks who are quite accustomed to getting their own way and who really dislike being told what to do. The only reason I would believe that their approval would be forthcoming here is that any team that moves has to pay a “relocation fee” to the league which is then distributed to the other owners.

Last year the Rams paid $500M as a relocation fee; presumably, that would be the price for a team that moves this year. So, it would seemingly behoove the “other owners” to let the Raiders move to Las Vegas and then to let the Chargers opt to join the Rams in LA. That lets the “other owners split a cool $1B amongst themselves without having to lift a finger.

However, there are other ways for the owners to “find money” in these proceedings. If the Nevada folks get legislation approved to raise the funding here, the league does not have to put the Raiders in Las Vegas. Suppose they decide to let the Chargers move there; suppose they decide to let the Jax Jags move there. The “other owners” still collect money for doing nothing but the Raiders would still be stranded in Oakland.

    [Aside: Remember, the Jags still have tarps over stadium seats in Jax because they cannot sell out the full stadium and even with the tarps in place, they still do not sell out the smaller stadium. Why do you think they love to play games in London? They sell lots more tix there at higher prices than they do in Jax.]

I am sure that there are folks out there who would look at that sort of outcome as a way for the league and the owners to flip the bird in the cosmic direction of Al Davis whose previous movements of the Raiders caused the league such heartburn. That sort of conclusion is a bit of a stretch in my opinion. Al Davis’ defiance of the league in moving his team happened a long time ago and it involved a markedly different set of owners. Some of the most influential owners today – Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft, Woody Johnson – were not part of that old NFL. Will they take a “vengeful stance” here; I think not.

While on the subject of the NFL, there has been a bit of a furor in the last few days about the list of people eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame next year. There are about 100 people on the list and one of them is Darren Sharper. In case you lost interest in Sharper’s story, he pleaded guilty to drugging and then raping multiple women and was recently sentenced to 18 years in prison. If you want an update on all of this, you can find it here.

The furor over his appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot is misplaced. The Pro Football Hall of Fame does not have any “morals criteria” associated with membership. As I understand it, anyone may nominate any person associated with pro football for consideration by the Hall of Fame Selection Committee. It appears that the ONLY hard and fast rule is that if the nominee is a player or a coach, that nominee has to have been retired for 5 full years before he is eligible for selection. Darren Sharper meets that criterion. That does not mean he deserves to be voted in – I’d bet dollars to donut-holes he will not make the first cut on the list as it exists for now – but he belongs on the list.

Finally, here is a comment from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald about Miami Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross:

“Stephen Ross held a business seminar for five Fins players interested in post-football careers. His advice to them: Become a billionaire. Makes everything so much easier!”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

4 thoughts on “One Step Closer To “Las Vegas Raiders”…”

  1. A good analysis of the byzantine maneuverings of NFL franchises. No wonder I concentrate on four-down football. An additional factor is whether NFL owners will vote to enrich Sheldon Adelson. And where does Adelson’s new $45 million political munificence play into the equation?

    1. TenaciousP:

      The NFL owners are usually happy to share monies and profits with other rich folks – – so long as the NFL owners get a good deal out of it. I do not think that is a problem. A person as rich as Adelson who is also “politically involved” as he is will always affect the thinking of political actors who may have to take sides on an issue. I doubt that will be any different in this case.

      One other factor here. Adelson owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal which is the dominant news outlet in Las Vegas. I shall not be surprised to see the paper support very strongly anything that will advance this process toward the objective of breaking ground for a new stadium in Las Vegas.

  2. I do find it interesting that rumors about an Oakland solution continue to swirl. Now, IF this is delayed a couple of years, the Warriors will be moved to SF (the arena hasn’t really started yet) which leaves enough space for a baseball / football complex situated very nicely on the BART system.
    However, “follow the money” is always good advice for NFL owner decisions.

    1. Rugger9:

      Some group in Oakland just came up with an idea to pump $167M into the pot to keep the Raiders there. That is a nice start but in Las Vegas the idea is to put $750M of poublic money PLUS $650M of Sheldon Adelson’s money into the pot. That $167M is a nice start, but it is only the ante into the game…

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