- Christian K. Lee/Getty
The Nevada state Senate on Tuesday voted 16-5 in favor of a bill that would pledge $750 million in public money toward the $1.7 billion, 65,000-seat Las Vegas stadium to which Oakland Raiders’ owner Mark Davis is threatening to move his franchise.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the bill will now go to the Nevada Assembly, which will meet on Thursday. If it is passed into law, the only thing standing between the Raiders and Las Vegas would be a vote from NFL owners. Should two-thirds of owners vote in favor of the Las Vegas stadium, Oakland would lose its football team.
Davis has pledged $500 million toward the stadium, and billionaire Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has pledged an additional $650 million. As the Chronicle explained, the $750 million in public funds would be paid for from bonds that would, in theory, be repaid with revenue from a hotel tax.
Nevada state senators recognized that the bill was not perfect, but reportedly voted to approve it simply because of the possibility that it would create jobs.
Meanwhile, a Stanford economist blasted the proposal.
“Stanford economist Roger Noll, an expert on the economic impact of sports stadiums, called the deal the ‘worst I’ve ever seen.’ Noll said the financial study underpinning the entire proposal is ‘deeply flawed,’ assuming one-third of the people who fill the stadium for Raiders games will be tourists who will spend more than three nights in Las Vegas.
“‘Their financial welfare would depend on selling 22,500 tickets every single game to people following the visiting team,'” Noll said. “‘There is no team in the NFL that comes anywhere near one-third of their fan base being tourists … You take away all that, you take away 75 percent of the economic benefit of the stadium.'”
As the possibility of the move to Las Vegas becomes increasingly likely, Oakland officials have offered no concrete plan to keep the Raiders.
Oakland Mayor Libby Shaff has refused to dedicate public money to a new football stadium. And as the Chronicle explained, Oakland and Alameda County taxpayers are still paying off $95 billion in debt from the 1995 renovations to the Oakland Coliseum that were made in order to lure the Raiders from Los Angeles.
- Thearon W. Henderson/Getty
NFL owners could vote on the Raiders’ relocation bid as soon as January.
Pro Football Talk reported last week that owners are expected to be firmly divided on Las Vegas for a slew of reasons.
“As the wheels continue to move toward a potential move, it’s believed that more and more owners will ask tough questions about the wisdom of having players living in an environment where gambling is prevalent, where prostitution is legal, and where drug use is commonplace.
“The argument, as to the gambling, will be that plenty of teams are headquartered in cities where casinos are accessible. Still, there’s no NFL team in a city where gambling is everywhere, in all forms and fashions including wagering on sports. With plenty of young players on every NFL team, the temptations will result in plenty of concerns about their friendships and associations in a town where all roads and walkways lead to a place where bets are made.”
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, perhaps the most influential of all NFL owners, has publicly expressed his support of a franchise in Vegas, while Giants’ owner John Mara has said firmly that the issue of gambling makes Las Vegas out of the question. Jones and Mara are considered to represent the two factions of NFL ownership – Jones the new-money, and Mara the old guard. As we learned when Stan Kroenke successfully moved the Rams to Las Vegas, Jones is increasingly powerful.
And for as powerful as Jones is among NFL ownership, Adelson is undoubtedly more powerful within Nevada. Judging by the swiftness with which the Senate pushed this bill through, it’s hard to imagine the Assembly voting it down.