A move to Las Vegas is definitely possible, according to Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis, as he appears to have all but given up on the prospects of a new NFL stadium in Oakland.
Davis committed $500 million toward a proposed $1.4-billion Las Vegas domed stadium, as part of a pitch to the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee that included $150 million from the Sands Corp. and Majestic Realty and the rest from tourism taxes. In addition to an NFL team, David Beckham was on hand to pitch international friendlies and Major League Soccer, and other dignitaries were there to pitch high-profile events.
But there’s a huge political fight brewing, as the majority of stadium funding would come from local tourism taxes diverted from an expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. As we’ve noted, this won’t happen without a huge fight: tourism is the fuel that drives the Strip economy, and any attempt to cut spending on the convention center will be seen as an assault on tourism. And, of course, there are some personal grudges at play here: Sands Corp., owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, runs a convention center (Sands Expo Center) that competes directly with the LVCC and other smaller venues. So there are politics galore.
And Davis’s interview makes clear what he is proposing: he’s promising $500 million — $200 million from the NFL, $300 million from the team — that would go toward the stadium and a state-of-the-art training facility somewhere in the greater Vegas area. (That detail was lost in the original statement to the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee.) The same amount of money was offered if Oakland took up the cause of a new Raiders stadium, but with Oakland officials quiet about a new facility, it looks like the team will be moving out of the Bay Area no matter what. From ESPN.com:
Davis insists he is not using Las Vegas as leverage for a new stadium in Oakland. It raised more than a few eyebrows and hackles in the Bay Area when Davis pledged $500 million to Las Vegas. Fans want to know where that money was for a new stadium in Oakland.
“We’ve already said we’d put $500 million toward a stadium in Oakland,” said Davis, who would need corporate and/or taxpayer money in addition to his own to stay in Bay Area. “But there is a substantial funding gap, and there’s no way to make it up.
“I just don’t see how we finance this.”
Vegas may not be close to a done deal for the Raiders, but that doesn’t mean the team is not without options. If the Chargers stay in San Diego, the team has the option to move to a new Inglewood (Cal.) stadium and share it with the Los Angeles Rams. If the Chargers move to Los Angeles, the Raiders could look at a move to San Diego. And San Antonio still looms on the horizon, though NFL owners may not sign off on that move. (Indeed, owner politics is a whole different matter.)
Still, Davis’s line is that a move to Las Vegas is first among several options. And, until someone closes the door on a new domed stadium, the notion of the Las Vegas Raiders must be taken seriously.