To secure a new stadium in Las Vegas, the Oakland Raiders will have to resolve their current funding issues or start considering other options.
This week has marked a turn in the wrong direction for the Raiders, whose stadium deal in Las Vegas is in doubt after billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson walked way from negotiations. The departure of Adelson, who was to contribute $650 million to the $1.9 billion stadium project, caused a ripple effect, as an investment Goldman Sachs–which was believed to be stepping in to back project–is now in doubt.
Raiders owner Mark Davis has already filed to relocate to Las Vegas, where a new stadium could open in 2020. During a press conference this week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell emphasized that the Raiders have time to resolve the funding issues, but pointed out that it could be a conflict if a casino owner is to purchase a stake in either the team or the new stadium. More from the Las Vegas Sun:
I don’t see an ownership position in a team from a casino,” Goodell said. “That’s not something that’s consistent with our policy, not likely a stadium either.”
Goodell hadn’t explicitly stated that position since the Nevada Legislature earmarked $750 million in public money to build the stadium last year. But it’s one many speculated the NFL owners held since the relationship between Adelson and Raiders owner Mark Davis began to deteriorate.
It’s problematic for Las Vegas considering almost anyone local with the ability to step in for Adelson financially would come from the gaming industry. If the Raiders are to move to Las Vegas, it now appears that they would need to secure outside financing from an investment bank like Goldman Sachs, which was linked to the stadium project before following Adelson out.
“From our standpoint, we have rules that are in place,” Goodell said. “The Raiders haven’t asked us to compromise those rules as it relates to our policy. We will continue to have that policy going forward.”
The obvious question at this point is what options the Raiders will pursue. The league is likely to weigh in on the move by the end of March, so the team will look to address the ongoing funding problems over the next few weeks.
Should Las Vegas fall through, be it in the short run or for the long term, the Raiders will likely remain in Oakland until they can work out a stadium deal. Oakland has made an offer of its own, approving a term sheet late last year for a new stadium and adjacent development at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. That plan calls for contributions from Fortress Investments and a group headed by Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, along with a combined $500 million from the Raiders and the NFL.
The $1.25 billion project would have public funds, but Oakland officials have wanted to limit that contribution to infrastructure improvements at the site. As Las Vegas deals with its funding issues, Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf says that she has no interest in upping the city’s financial contribution to the proposal. More from the East Bay Times:
“Las Vegas is not off the table, “she said. “We are competing, but we are competing on our terms whether or not the NFL or the Raiders accept that.
“We will know a lot after the March meeting but I am not moving off my very, very strong line in the sand for the city’s participation,” she continued.
It is worth noting that, in Las Vegas, Nevada governor Brian Sandoval has publicly stated that there will not be additional public funds on the table. The state legislature approved $750 million in public funds for the stadium during a special session last fall.
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