Oakland Raiders Las Vegas Deal Wreckage Leaves Nevada Fighting Over NFL Stadium Subsidy #SBXLI
The Sheldon Adelson-led effort to relocate the Oakland Raiders from Oaktown to Las Vegas is dead. Adelson, upset with what he saw as an attempt to double-cross him on the part of the Silver and Black’s owner and management, said in a statement that he would not negotiate with the NFL team, anymore. Now, after Adelson’s bomb was dropped, some Nevada politicians are already fighting over the reuse $750 million stadium subsidy.
While some looked as Adelson’s decision as leaving an opportunity for The Raiders, those who know Nevada politics and have watched this story unfold over the last year, know that Sheldon Adelson did the following:
1) Paid into the campaigns of a giant number of Nevada elected officials those running to challenge them
2) Financed the development of many of the studies associated with the Raiders stadium project.
3) Hired an army of lobbyists to make deals with member of the Nevada Legislature, all to the objective of gaining passage of Senate Bill 1, which contains a hotel-tax increase that was to be used for the Raiders stadium construction.
4) Used his news organization, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, to write a large number of reports favorable to the NFL Raiders stadium project.
Now, in the wake of Adelson’s departure, and his scorched-earth way of doing it, and the news Goldman Sachs let leak that it would not help the Raiders finance the stadium project (contrary to news that the investment banking firm was going to do that), comes the Las Vegas Review-Journal releasing an article with this title: “Goldman Sachs financing in jeopardy after Adelson exit from Raiders stadium plan”.
Think about it. That’s Sheldon Adelson’s newspaper and news website telling everyone that, as one of Goldman Sachs largest clients, his pulling the plug on the Raiders Stadium Deal means the giant investment banker waves good-bye, too. And while the article was careful to say that Adelson didn’t tell Goldman Sachs to back out, the article was a giant hint at what he wanted the firm to do, just by using the language “Adelson has a long-time relationship with Goldman Sachs”. Get it?
And the Las Vegas Sun was even more willing to un-bundle the Raiders stadium subsidy, with this headline: “If NFL passes on Las Vegas, earmarked money could help build stadium for UNLV”.
Several members of the Las Vegas and Nevada political community have told me that once the new Nevada Legislature meets for the new year on February 6th, there will be efforts to use that hotel tax money for basic needs, from education and health care, to minority contracting (as is new Nevada Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford’s desire), and UNLV. “There are many who are concerned that UNLV had to come up with $200 million, as the legislation was written,” one Nevada elected official told me on the condition that their name not be used. “There may be a push to change that come next session,” the official said.
And while the Raiders claim they can get the financing for a new stadium in Las Vegas, given the number of people in Nevada who do business with Sheldon Adelson, including the labor unions who gave their time to call legislators and made special deals with Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands organization, it is pure folly to believe they’re all going to stand with Raiders Owner Mark Davis in the wake of Adelson’s departure.
Moreover, when the Nevada Legislature meets in February, Democrats will be in power over Republicans. In November, Democrats regained their majority control in the Legislature. In the Nevada Senate, Dems have a 27 to 15 advantage. In the Nevada Assembly, Dems have a thin 11 to 10 edge, but it’s enough to put them in charge: Rep Jason Frierson becomes Nevada’s first African-American Speaker Of The House.
That sets up a Democratic v Republican battle for the Raiders Stadium subsidy. Majority Leader Ford wants to use the money for infrastructure funding proposal if the Raiders themselves punt from their stadium effort. Senator Minority Leader Michael Roberson, however, did not want to call it a day for the Raiders, saying “I would advise that we continue to see this process of obtaining an NFL team through to a successful conclusion rather than proposing seemingly random ideas to start spending room tax money that we currently don’t have and without the consensus of support from our tourism industry.”
But now that the Republicans, who had the majority in the Nevada Legislature when Adelson engineered his votes, are in the minority, their power to see this through has been severely curtailed.
Meanwhile, there is a stadium financing plan in Oakland, home of The Raiders.
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