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Raiders Stadium in Las Vegas Could Advance Without Adelson

New Las Vegas Stadium

As they try to continue their momentum toward a move to Las Vegas, the Oakland Raiders say that the proposal can be financed without Sheldon Adelson

Adelson and his Las Vegas Sands Corp have been heavily involved in talks to lure the Raiders to Las Vegas. The original funding model for the project calls for Adelson to pay $650 toward the $1.9 billion stadium project, with the Raiders contributing $500 million and an additional $750 million in public funds authorized by the Nevada legislature. Even after the public funding for the stadium was approved by the state legislature, Adelson and the Raiders had problems coming to terms, as Adelson indicated in October that he could leave the project.

Months later, it does not seem that Adelson is close to coming to terms with the Raiders. Despite that impasse, the Raiders and project officials are indicating that the stadium will still be financed, with the team indicating that Goldman Sachs will back the proposal regardless. This news was presented by Jeremy Aguero of Applied Analysis during a Las Vegas Stadium Authority meeting on Thursday. More from The Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Aguero’s statement to the authority board provided a clearer picture of what the NFL’s stadium and finance committees were told by the Raiders at a Wednesday meeting in New York.

“The team’s presentation highlighted its research that the Las Vegas market can support the team, that bringing the NFL to the market aligns with the league’s strategic goals and that Goldman Sachs is committed to financing the project with or without a third party,” Aguero said.

“The Raiders told the committees that there is no deal in place yet with the Adelson family and that the team is pursuing approval with no third-party involvement,” Aguero said. “However, if an accord with the Adelson family is reached later, the team would bring that back for league approval.”

Adelson and the Raiders are reportedly still negotiating, so discussions about finances are preliminary at this point, especially with the NFL still needing to decide whether it will approve the move.

One that is clear is that, if the Raiders move, the wait for a stadium in Las Vegas will continue for at least a couple of years. Estimates have called for the Las Vegas stadium to not open until at least 2019, meaning that the Raiders will have to play in Oakland or elsewhere for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

In the aftermath of the announcement that the Los Angeles Chargers will play at the 30,000-seat StubHub Center–home of the MLS’ Los Angeles Galaxy–until a new stadium opens, some are wondering if Las Vegas could land the team sooner. Looking at the specifics, Review-Journal columnist Ed Graney discusses if the Raiders could spend a season or two at Sam Boyd Field, home of UNLV football:

Sam Boyd Stadium could increase its capacity to 45,000 with expansion in the north end zone, meaning Davis wouldn’t lose an exorbitant amount of money (at least not by the standards of an NFL owner) should he choose to arrive in Las Vegas on a full-time basis earlier than planned.

There is precedence for all this, and you only need look to when the Oilers departed Houston for Tennessee and played at 40,550-seat Vanderbilt Stadium in 1998 while Nissan Stadium was being built in Nashville.

It has been done, and Sam Boyd Stadium is a heck of a lot better suited to host football than a place where the game is primarily played with one’s feet.

But while certain aspects of Sam Boyd beyond seating — you can begin with the not-to-acceptable Mike Sanford locker rooms — would likely have to be improved to reach NFL standards, another potential impediment could keep Davis and his team in Oakland as the Las Vegas stadium is built: There is absolutely no guarantee that Bay Area fans would turn on their team.

Raiders owner Mark Davis has not indicated to this point that the team is definitely going to leave the Coliseum before the Las Vegas stadium is built. Staying in Oakland still appears to be the plan for the Raiders, and there are still some uncertainities about Sam Boyd Stadium–including cost of upgrades, and whether it can offer the premium spaces and other ammenities needed to satisfy an NFL franchise for a season or two. Perhaps, however, it emerges if a lame duck season in Oakland is something the team decides to avoid.

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