After butchering any chance the Oakland Raiders had to relocate to Las Vegas (and many other reasons), the time has come for Mark Davis to sell the team.
Back in October 8, 2011, Raider Nation found itself in a sad place when it was reported that long-time owner Al Davis had passed away. The future of his beloved Oakland Raiders seemed to be up in the air, and it was not definitive as to who was going to be controlling the day-to-day operations.
Then came along Al’s son, Mark Davis. Mark had nothing to do with the football side of the organization while Al was in charge, and for the most part, he was considered nothing more than a doormat. Mark’s primary role with the franchise was with ‘The Raider Image’ stores, as well as the equipment department. For the most part, he kept out of the limelight up until his father’s death.
But as the heir apparent, he suddenly found himself in control of the Raiders empire that his father spent years building.
After Mark assumed all day-to-day operations, that offseason, he hired Reggie McKenzie to be the General Manager, per the counsel of John Madden. Following a rather positive press conference, it was fair to say that this was one of the more hopeful vibes that the Raiders organization had experienced in recent years.
Everything seemed to be going in a completely different direction than what Raider Nation was accustomed to. At this point, no one from the Davis family was heavily involved in football operations, and someone not named Al Davis was the acting GM. It was a very weird to be a Raiders fan during this time period.
During Mark’s first initial offseason press conference, he was on the record saying that he was looking for a viable stadium option in Oakland, but said that if nothing were to form in Oakland, he would express other possible locations.
In 2015, there was momentum building for a potential relocation to Los Angeles. Both Mark Davis and Chargers owner Dean Spanos put all of their resources into spearheading a joint project in Carson.
This relocation effort was a bit tricky, considering the Raiders and Chargers were going up against multi-billionaire Stan Kroenke. With Davis’ and Spanos’ net worth’s combined, they did not come anywhere near Kroenke’s assets, nor influence, and when it came to getting the 24 votes to move, they were badly outnumbered.
After the votes came in, the Raiders essentially finished last. The Kroenke-owned Rams were then permitted to move to Los Angeles, while the Chargers were given a one-year window to decide if they wanted to join the Rams in Los Angeles, and the Raiders were basically left to fend for themselves.
Davis then already started looking for alternatives, which included a possible solution in San Antonio. After essentially getting shut down by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, it seemed Davis’ only real option was to stay in Oakland for the time being. Davis signed two one-year team options to temporarily keep the team at the Oakland Coliseum.
At this point, it seemed that Davis was non-committal to Oakland, and showed no loyalty to a fan base that had shown mountains of loyalty back.
Before Davis even signed the lease agreement with Oakland, he was already beginning to meet with Las Vegas Sands Corp’s president, Sheldon Adelson, about a potential site near the Las Vegas strip.
On April 28, 2016, it was announced by Davis himself, that he would like the team to move to Las Vegas, and even pledged $500 million of his “own money” towards the project.
This sent shockwaves throughout Raider Nation. Vegas? Really?
When it was initially announced, the idea of Vegas started to gain traction among some of the more notable owners in the NFL, such as Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft.
As the season began, most fans at that point wanted to solely focus on football, but Davis did the complete opposite. On October 14, 2016, funding was then approved by the Nevada Senate and Assembly for a 65,000 seat stadium near the Las Vegas strip. The city was willing to put $750 million in a hotel tax to help fund the stadium. It would have been the largest public subsidy for a stadium in the history of the U.S.
After the season concluded, the Raiders then filed for relocation on January 19, 2017. This is where it gets interesting. If this was such a “done deal” like the media and other officials reported, then why did it take the Raiders nearly two weeks after the season ended to file for relocation? From the start, this Vegas move had a very bad smell to it.
After the relocation papers were turned in, it was then up to the Raiders to send a lease agreement to Las Vegas. The terms were essentially a slap in the face to the city of Las Vegas, and it gave them a taste of what Oakland had been put through for years.
On top of wanting a $1 a year annual rent, Davis also wanted complete Raiders branding despite sharing the stadium with UNLV. Was Davis even aware that this was going to be a multi-event stadium? Below was a direct statement from Davis himself.
"The Authority or its designees shall have the obligation to, and shall, provide, perform and take, or cause to be provided, performed or taken, such actions, at the Authority’s expense, either directly or through the Manager, as may be necessary or reasonably advisable to operate and maintain the Stadium and Stadium Infrastructure in a safe, clean, attractive, and first-class manner similar to and consistent with other premier, top-tier NFL facilities (the “Expected Facility Standard”) and in compliance with all Applicable Laws"
This is where it gets real entertaining. As the proposed lease agreement was submitted, the Raiders essentially went behind Adelson’s back and excluded him from the lease agreement, and were full on intending to be funded by Goldman Sachs.
Once again, due to Davis’ lack of business acumen, he was not aware of the relationship between Adelson and Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs came out and basically said ‘No Adelson, no deal’. Due to Davis’ unethical approach, he went on to lose his biggest investor, and Goldman Sachs in the process.
"Sheldon Adelson’s reps went on to say, “It became a nonstarter with everybody,” he said. “This was the strangest negotiation [Mr. Adelson] had ever dealt with.”"
At this point, Mark Davis managed to anger both Sheldon Adelson (the most powerful man in Vegas), Nevada mayor Brian Sandoval, and the Clark county commissioner, Steve Sisolak.
By now, the Vegas deal was dead in the water. Not only did Mark Davis fail to relocate the team, but this is now the one of many failed attempts to move out of Oakland. Is anyone sensing a re-occurring theme here?
What we saw here was an unethical business partner trying to pin two cities against each other, and see who would be willing to give out the bigger handout.
On top of completely botching the Las Vegas relocation, Davis has very little to no pull when it comes to the other owners. It has become quite clear that other owners do not give Mark Davis the time of day, and that Davis will essentially do whatever the owners want him to. A perfect example would be the two home games the Raiders have now given up to go play in Mexico.
Another reason why Davis should sell, is his lack of a business mind. It is quite hard to believe that someone who is in a top-six market like Davis is, has found it so hard to get by. Davis’ net worth is currently the lowest of any NFL owner at $500 million.
At the end of all of this relocation madness, Davis has no excuses to lean on. The San Francisco 49ers, Golden State Warriors, and soon the Oakland A’s, all managed to get privately funded stadiums in their respective Bay Area markets. What is your excuse, Mark?
While Davis has been hell-bent on finding a new city for the Raiders, he has continuously neglected what Ronnie Lott and Fortress have been willing to offer. It seems like Ronnie Lott is not the only one who thinks that there is a viable option in Oakland.
Currently, Mark Davis owns 48% of the Raiders. If the NFL owners had any bi-laws that people knew of like the NBA did, they could in fact force Mark to sell if they so pleased. Oakland deserves better. Raiders loyalists deserve better. Anyone who has any kind of affiliation with the Raiders deserve better.
Mark, if you are reading this, Just Sell Baby!