The Oakland Raiders has secured financial backing to build a new home in Las Vegas, just three weeks after Sheldon Adelson pulled his $650 million commitment to the project and Goldman Sachs followed him out of the door.
On Monday, Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak confirmed rumors to FOX 5 that the Raiders had the backing of two unnamed banks, committed to filling that $650 million Adelson-shaped hole.
The Nevada legislature has approved an increase on Vegas hotel taxes in order to shoulder the $750 million it has pledged to help build the $1.9 billion stadium. The Raiders themselves have pledged $500 million towards the project.
Raiding Adelson’s Pockets
Adelson, who has been instrumental in luring the Raiders to Vegas, pulled out of the deal on the 31st of January, immediately after the team’s management took a proposed stadium lease agreement to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority without informing the Adelson family. The lease made no mention of the Adelsons as a partner, an affront that was too much to swallow for the LVS chairman and CEO.
His spokesman, Andy Abboud, told the Adelson-owned Las Vegas Review-Journal shortly after that the Raiders had been “trying to pick Adelson’s pocket” on the deal, and accused them of offering “mixed signals” on Vegas’ suitability as a franchise city, possibly, said Abboud, as a “manipulation technique.”
But Vegas’ suitability will ultimately be decided at the forthcoming NFL spring league meetings, where the proposal will need three-fourths of the vote to receive approval. That’s 24 of NFL’s 32 owners.
The NFL is anti-sports betting. It sees it as a threat to the integrity of the game, and Vegas’ status as the capital of US betting is a potential roadblock to the deal.
There is evidence, though, that this attitude is thawing, and there’s a realization within the NFL that technology means “the sports betting risks are no longer exclusive to Vegas,” as Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, put it recently.
Vegas, meanwhile, is determined to keep bets on any possible future “Las Vegas Raiders” games on the menu at its sports books, even if the NFL asks it not to. For Vegas, it’s a matter of pride in the integrity of its gaming industry and regulatory framework.
As Tony Alamo, Chairman of the Gaming Control Commission, said recently: “The integrity of gaming is so above reproach that it doesn’t matter if the team is 100 yards away or 400 miles away. What changed? Nothing.”
Finally, in another twist, the group devoted to ensuring that the Raiders stay in Oakland, fronted by NFL veteran Ronnie Lott, suffered a potential financing hiccup this week when its own financial backer, the Fortress Investment Group, was bought out by Japanese-based SoftBank for $3.3 billion, a deal that throws its funding into doubt.