Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis has pledged $500 million toward a new Las Vegas stadium and will move his team there if the $1.4 billion facility becomes a reality.
Speaking at a meeting of the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, Davis didn’t mince words about his intentions: “Together we can turn the Silver State into the silver and black state,” Davis said.
Speculation in NFL circles has centered on a potential move to San Diego if the Chargers alight to Los Angeles or Los Angeles if the Chargers stay in San Diego. At the Vegas meeting today, Davis showed the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: It’s hard to see Al Davis letting other teams dictate his destiny, and today Mark Davis made it clear he wasn’t going to wait for anyone else’s actions to chart his path. So viva Las Vegas.
What’s being discussed is a new $1.4 billion domed stadium off the Strip to house the Raiders and the UNLV football program, replacing Sam Boyd Stadium. The Raiders would steer $500 million toward a new facility ($200 million from the NFL, $300 million from the team), with $150 million from Sands Corp. (owned by Sheldon Adelson) and the rest from tourism taxes. The final component is the least settled of all: it would divert money from a convention center expansion (politically dicey: the convention center authority is supported by all the casinos, who heavily rely on events there, while Adelson and the Sands would benefit the most from a new stadium).
Also pitched as a benefit of a new stadium: high-profile soccer matches, as David Beckham (who works with the Sands Corp. on promotions) was on hand to declare the likelihood of international soccer games as a big event.
Nothing would come soon. Indeed, it will take months for a funding plan to be finalized under the best of circumstances, including future legislative approval. Right now a 2019 opening is being tossed around; the Raiders’ lease at O.Co Coliseum runs through 2018, and the Raiders would schedule a preseason game annually at Sam Boyd Stadium but not make the move until the new stadium is completed.
Economically, Las Vegas may not need the NFL to make a new stadium work: honestly, between the inevitable boost in UNLV attendance, high-profile soccer matches and neutral-size college-football games and the big events promoters will bring to the stadium (concerts, etc.), it’s easy to argue the stadium is a profitable extension of the region’s hospitality industry. But the NFL does carry one big bonus: it puts Vegas on the map as a real metropolitan area and not just a sea of condos surrounding the Strip.
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