Las Vegas $750M Public Subsidy “Not a Standing Commitment”


No more Sheldon Adelson. No more Goldman Sachs. And now, the $750 million in public funding for the Oakland Raiders to move to Vegas might be off the table.

In his pitch to move the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, Mark Davis told the other NFL owners that Goldman Sachs was backing the financial operation to build the new stadium, even if Sheldon Adelson was not involved in the project.

Well, Adelson backed out of the deal and issued quite a statement to go with it. Nobody really knows the reason for Adelson to leave the table like that, but all good…because Davis still had Goldman Sachs in his back pocket, right?


On Tuesday, the day after Adelson backed out of the deal, sources within the bank told multiple reporters that no Adelson means no deal.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport even said that in spite of a bad day, the departure of Adelson was not a fatal blow to the relocation project.

So no $650M from Adelson and no guarantees from Goldman Sachs. But Davis still had the $750M commitment from the State of Nevada, right? Hmmm…Actually, no. He doesn’t have that, either.

Yesterday sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that the $750M bill approved by the Nevada State Senate “should not be viewed as a ‘standing commitment'”, which hints that the bill can be cancelled in a heartbeat.

All of a sudden, in less than 72 hours, Davis saw his project ruined.

The Raiders went from having a $1.9B project ready with a billionaire investor and plenty of public money to boot, to having nothing at all. Nothing but an empty promise by the NFL to help with the costs to build a new stadium somewhere.

It is pretty clear that Adelson pulled a few strings and got Goldman Sachs to back off, likely based on the number of businesses his companies have with the bank. Interestingly, NFL’s EVP, Eric Grubman is a former executive of Goldman Sachs, but apparently Adelson’s connections trumped Grubman’s.

If that was not bad enough, Adelson probably used all of his political influence to morph a passed bill into something entirely uncertain. In a way, that guy is another Stan Kroenke or Jerry Jones — someone with boatloads of money and can do whatever he wants. And now it seems that he does not want the Raiders in Vegas, so he completely sucked the air out of Davis’ little room.

Mark Davis, just like Houston, you have a problem. It is never a good thing to have Adelson as your enemy anywhere. This is especially true in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Or — which I believe is also part of the whole truth — the NFL simply didn’t want to do business with Adelson, either as a minority shareholder of the Raiders or as an investor in the stadium. But how would the NFL get rid of him without looking bad?

Easy. Forcing Davis to do so, no matter how bad Davis would look to other possible investors, the fans, or whatever. Just like they easily played Davis into surrendering another home game to Mexico City next season, but this is another story.

Then Roger Goodell went on to say that “we haven’t made a determination about Las Vegas as an NFL market”.

This statement by Goodell, combined with the avalanche that hit the Raiders’ deal with Las Vegas, blurs everything and makes everybody go back to square one.

Ronnie Lott says “hi”, by the way.

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Davis has formally applied for the relocation of the franchise, so presumably, the NFL had already conducted the necessary researches and concluded that Vegas might not be great, but at least was a viable destination. Now after what Goodell said, I’m not so sure. And I believe that at this point nobody knows nothing about anything.

Yes, three negatives in the same sentence, on purpose. That’s how much I think people know.

I was a bit hesitant to believe that the NFL and the other owners were really forcing Davis to sell the Raiders, but this feeling is growing by the day.

It looks like there is always someone “sabotaging” any talks or negotiations. It’s either a city’s fault for not coming up with the money, or there is no viable stadium location, or the funding is not right,  or they don’t want to do business with a casino owner — there is always an excuse.

But this time the excuse is basically throwing away $750M — the largest proposed public funding of a private venue in the history of the country.

Next: New Episode of the JBB Podcast

The NFL must really, and I mean really, dislike Mark Davis.