Sheldon Adelson withdrew a $650 million commitment to help build a stadium in Las Vegas for the Oakland Raiders after becoming frustrated with the team’s overreaching demands and mixed signals towards him during negotiations.
This is according to Andy Abboud, vice president of government relations and community affairs for LVS.
Abboud told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a newspaper owned by his boss, Adelson, that the final straw came when the Raiders took a proposed stadium lease agreement to the Las Vegas Stadium authority without informing the Adelsons.
The lease made no mention of the Adelsons as a partner, a turn of events Abboud describes as “stunning.”
“I’m still trying to figure out what the hell they were thinking,” Abboud said. “Had they told anybody ahead of time that they were going to dump that document, even if they had told us, ‘We don’t want you in the deal anymore,’ if they had shown anyone that’s been involved in this process at all that document, we would have said, ‘What in the hell are you thinking?’”
Four days after the meeting with the authority, on January 30th, Adelson pulled his commitment, leaving the project with a $650 million hole in its financing, and the Raiders’ proposed move now hangs in the balance.
Up until that point, all had at least appeared to have been progressing smoothly. Adelson had been instrumental in luring the Raiders to Vegas.
The Nevada legislature had approved an increase on Las Vegas hotel taxes in order to shoulder the $750 million fronted by the taxpayer. Raiders owner Mark Davis had pledged $500 million towards the project and had announced a “lifetime commitment” to the city.
But according to LVS, his commitment to the city was found wanting. The draft lease agreement drawn up by the Raiders did not “reflect the commitments that were made to UNLV,” with which it was agreed the stadium would be shared, said Abboud.
He added that, throughout the negotiations, the Raiders offered “conflicting stories” about the NFL’s view of Las Vegas’ suitability as a franchise city and of the Adelson’s involvement in the project. Abboud speculated that the team may have being employing this as a manipulation technique.
“(Adelson) was willing to share revenues and make it financially mutually beneficial, but they were picking his pocket,” Abboud said.
“I think that they felt they were asking to be entitled to revenue streams and things that simply made the deal unworkable. It was never about the financial return for the Adelsons, but the Adelson family wasn’t going to have their pocket picked, by the Raiders or by the NFL or anybody,” he said.