Sheldon Adelson Implies He Might Withdraw from Las Vegas Football Stadium Deal
Sheldon Adelson implied on Thursday he might withdraw his support for an NFL-ready football stadium proposal, if the Oakland Raiders do not negotiate a better deal with him. Mr. Adelson’s pronouncement came 10 days after Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval approved a $750 million stadium deal.
Under the current terms of the deal, Sheldon Adelson’s group would pay $650 million and become the owners of the $1.9 billion stadium. The people of Nevada would pay $750 million, while the Raiders themselves would pay $500 million. Once the stadium is built, the Raiders would pay a yearly price to rent the stadium from Adelson’s group.
“The Way It’s Gonna Go Down”
Mr. Adelson told reporters in a videoconference from Tel Aviv on Thursday, “I negotiated to bring in the Oakland Raiders, an NFL football team from Oakland, because they don’t have a stadium there, that I would build a stadium and rent it out to the Oakland Raiders.”
The Las Vegas casino magnate then told the audience ‘the way it’s going to go down’. He began by saying that Raiders owner Mark Davis was making too many demands. He added, “(The Raiders) want so much. So I told my people, ‘Tell them I could live with the deal, I could live without the deal. Here’s the way it’s gonna go down. If they don’t want it, bye-bye.’”
Andy Abboud Downplays the Story
A spokesman for the Las Vegas Sands Corporation immediately walked-back Adelson’s statement. Andy Abboud told KSNV-TV Las Vegas, “It’s a non-story. Everything is moving along very well.”
Those who read gaming news know Andy Abboud as a point-man for Sheldon Adelson’s attempt to ban online gambling. Mr. Abboud speaks at government hearings and in public relations forums on behalf of Restore America’s Wire Act (RAWA). Abboud’s voice therefore carries weight when it comes to Las Vegas Sands Corp., so his walk-back likely had Adelson’s sanction.
Mark Davis recently has been lobbying his fellow owners in the National Football League to approve the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas. Three-fourths of NFL owners must approve a move from Oakland to Las Vegas. Davis spoke last week at the Fall League Meeting of NFL owners.
Roger Goodell Still Uncommitted
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has yet to give his support to the Oakland Raiders’ proposed relocation. While Goodell does not have a vote in the matter, his support carries weight among the league’s owners.
Goodell is the only major American sports league commissioner who has held a hardline stance against sports gambling, so the possibility still remains that he tries to hold up the Raiders’ move within a few miles of the only legal sportsbooks in the United States. Goodell said last week that the NFL remains adamantly opposed to an expansion of legal sports betting.
As for the Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas, Roger Goddell remains noncommittal. The commissioner said after the Fall Meeting, “There’s still a great deal of information that we need to gather with respect to the circumstances we see in Las Vegas, the opportunities and also the challenges. Those are the things we’ll look at through the committee, and report back to them maybe as early as December, but more likely later than that.”
NFL Website Hints at Discord
NFL.com’s article on Sheldon Adelson’s statement suggested that the Las Vegas billionaire had “hinted at possible discord”. Austen Knoblauch characterized the statement as an implication that the Raiders’ offer needs to improve.
With the state of Nevada pledged to $750 million, that would leave $1.15 billion left to negotiate. Sheldon Adelson has been committed to $650 million, but he was pledging only $150 million a few months ago. While Mark Davis has maintained his pledge of $500 million for roughly six months, it is possible Sheldon Adelson wants him to pay more than that.
Majestic Realty Leaves Investment Group
Two weeks ago, one of the investors in the project pulled out of the plan. Majestic Realty of Los Angeles had been one of the original investors in a Las Vegas stadium. When Majestic dropped out of the plan, its CEO claimed it was because Sheldon Adelson had transformed the plan from a corporate project ($1 billion) into a “legacy project” ($1.9 billion).
If a key investor dropped out of the $650 million plan, then it is possible Sheldon Adelson is seeking to make up the difference. While Adelson is worth roughly $25 billion and could easily cover the expenses, it is presumed, billionaires do not maintain their wealth simply by ‘covering the expenses’. The consensus is that Sheldon Adelson has negotiated a nice deal in which he’ll gain ownership while investing 33% of the money, so he is unlikely to follow through on his threat to leave the project.
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