If Mark Davis is as dead set on moving the Raiders to Las Vegas as the mayor of Las Vegas says he is, he’s going to need all the help he can get from the rest of the NFL ownership.
On Thursday, he received a key endorsement from Jerry Jones.
Speaking at a Cowboys golf outing, Jones expressed his enthusiasm for Las Vegas as a potential NFL market in the future.
“It has a flair for entertainment, and it has two million people, and they’re avid sports fans, the full-time residents,” Jones said, according to The Sports Xchange. “They have a huge visiting contingent that more often than not are fans of some NFL football teams. You add all that together, and it’s certainly in a conversation about the future relative to the NFL.”
“As you well know, you have to have the right situation. You have to have the right ownership, want to and then a lot of other considerations that have to come into play. For me, I think that certainly the fact that Las Vegas has a gambling aspect to it is far overshadowed by the entertainment value, if you will, family appeal, that you have, the convention appeal. So it does not have disfavor with me, in my opinion, relative to being an NFL city.”
This quote has to make Davis giddy. In the fallout from the Rams’ successful relocation bid to Los Angeles, we learned that Jones holds a tremendous amount of power among the rest of the owners. As Yahoo’s Frank Schwab put it, if Jones isn’t the single most powerful owner in the league, then there aren’t very many names ahead of him in the hierarchy.
For Davis to move the Raiders to Las Vegas, he’d need 23 other owners to approve it. Now he has Jones is in his corner, whipping support and guaranteeing more votes.
A lot still needs to happen before NFL owners even sit down to vote on the potential Las Vegas bid, of course. For one thing, if Dean Spanos can reach an agreement with San Diego officials over a new stadium that would keep the Chargers in San Diego, then Davis could (and would) simply move the Raiders back to Los Angeles and into Stan Kroenke’s new stadium in Inglewood.
Assuming the Chargers don’t stay in San Diego — and Davis’ pivot toward Las Vegas shows he’s not exactly holding his breath — then the financing of a $1.4 billion stadium near the Las Vegas strip would still need to be approved. This is by no means a sure thing. Davis, for his part, has pledged $500 million toward the project, $200 million of which would come from borrowed NFL money. Billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Sands Group has pledged another $150 million.
The remaining $750 million would have to come from tourism taxes, which presents a slew of problems. The Nevada state legislature won’t meet until 2017 to discuss the proposal, and in the meantime the public sentiment over billionaires using taxpayer dollars to finance new stadiums is only growing more sour.
Those in favour of the stadium will posit the same argument that Jones makes in the quote above: an NFL team in Las Vegas only makes the city more appealing to tourists, which will only bolster the economy. But it’s hard to imagine the local Vegas community really rallying behind a stadium that’s largely coming out of their own pocket when Adelson (worth approximately $29 billion) is pledging a comparatively paltry $150 million.
But things are slowly starting to fall into place for Davis. From an NFL ownership standpoint, Jerry Jones’ support is the best news he could have hoped for.
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