Dirt has officially been moved at the future home of the Las Vegas Raiders. Team owner Mark Davis, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R), and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell were just a few of the notable dignitaries who attended the showy groundbreaking ceremony Monday night at the stadium site that sits at Interstate 15 and Russell Road, just west of the Strip.
Remembrance Incorporated Into Ceremony
The event began with a tribute to the victims of the October 1 shooting, with 58 beams of light shining towards the night sky to represent each life lost. Davis compared the heroic efforts of first responders after the tragedy to football, saying teamwork is essential to victory, and that “nowhere has the notion of teamwork been better displayed than in Las Vegas.”
While the mass shooting loomed in the backdrop of the groundbreaking, Goodell’s presence also likely riled some emotions.
The commissioner was originally adamantly against the Raiders relocating to Las Vegas, opining in the past that he’d have preferred the franchise stay in Oakland, and that Nevada’s legalized and widespread sports betting presents concerns for the league.
Owners overrode the commissioner almost unanimously, and now Goodell has no option but to throw his support behind the now-Las Vegas Raiders. “Only [here] can you turn a groundbreaking ceremony into a show,” Goodell said on Monday. “Las Vegas is a resilient city on the rise.”
The Raiders stadium is expected to cost $1.9 billion and open in time for the 2020 season. The 65,000-seat domed facility is being partially funded with $750 million in public tax dollars generated by hotel occupancy taxes in Clark County.
The Raiders are set to become Las Vegas’ second major professional sports team. The Vegas Golden Knights, an NHL expansion team, began playing at T-Mobile Arena this fall.
The Raiders stadium is in the running to be a 2026 World Cup venue. The quadrennial event takes in more wagers than any other sporting event in the world.
Goodbye for Goodell?
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is on a campaign to halt Goodell’s contract extension, which the league’s Compensation Committee is currently reviewing. Reports leaked that Goodell’s new deal will include a $49.5 million annual salary, plus lifetime use of a league private jet.
“Times like these are when you can really assess, look, get better,” Jones said this week. “I’ve been here many years and seen the times when you need to adjust.”
Though unlikely, there is a slim chance Jones, perhaps the most powerful owner in the league, will win enough support to potentially oust Goodell. Should that happen, the last commissioner who’s been steadfastly opposed to legalized sports betting of the Big Four professional sports leagues in America would be gone.
Goodell has few fans left in the NFL. His handling of the controversial kneeling by some players during the national anthem in protest of alleged police brutality against people of color has caused many would-be viewers to turn off their televisions. He’s also been all over the map when it comes to handing down suspensions, further angering fans.
In 2014, then-Ravens star Ray Rice was initially suspended just two games for assaulting his girlfriend at Atlantic City’s Revel casino. But the following year, Browns WR Josh Gordon was suspended the entire year for violating the league’s marijuana policy. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was forced to the bench for four games for tampering with playing balls, while Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was banned four games this year on unproven domestic violence claims.