When Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis first floated the idea of moving the Silver and Black to Las Vegas it seemed as ridiculous as the man’s haircut. But here we are a few months later and Davis has pledged $500 million from the team toward the construction a $1.4 billion domed stadium less than a mile away from the Las Vegas Strip. Maybe this is real?
At a meeting of the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, Davis made the promise while sitting next to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and soccer legend David Beckham, who spoke about all the other events that a dome in Vegas could attract. All three were trying to convince the state to pay for more than half of the dome's cost. The Raiders $500 million — along with a $150 mil contribution from Adelson — would leave the state on the hook for the rest. That burden would likely fall on tourists in the form of new taxes.
Even if Nevada decides to subsidize the business ventures of fabulously rich men, the NFL will have to approve the Raiders move, which is no certainty. The league has long had it out for Vegas, a result of the NFL's staunch anti-gambling stance. Recently commissioner Roger Goodell suggested there might be some evolution on that though. In the end it's not up to Goodell. The other league's owners have to approve the move before it can happen.
Davis is confident they'll do it. "If we give them an offer they can't refuse and that's what we're talking about now, I don't see a problem," he said, paraphrasing The Godfather.
One thing that can't be written off is the possibility that Davis is using the threat of moving to Las Vegas to twist Oakland's arm into paying for a new stadium there. It's one of the oldest tricks in the book for team owners. But Davis has had a hell of a time getting Oakland to agree to his demands so far and asking for the $750 million that Nevada would pay to put a dome in Sin City could get him laughed out of California.
The good news for Raiders fans in Oakland is that a move to Vegas would be years away, ensuring the team's presence at the Coliseum for the next few seasons. After watching the Raiders finally show signs of life following a decade of futility, that's the least Raider Nation deserves.