Man, take one morning off to go on the radio to talk about my new book (skip ahead to the 1:31 mark to hear my segment), and all hell breaks loose in the Oakland Raiders-to-Las Vegas situation. Admittedly, more hell breaking loose in terms of dramatic headlines than actual developments, but sometimes the war for headlines is the ones that counts in stadium deals, so let’s get to it:
- A church-based coalition called Nevadans for the Common Good has come out against the proposed $750 million public subsidy for a Vegas stadium, arguing that it will reduce potential funds available for other projects like roads and schools (true!), that general funds will be needed to make up for lost hotel taxes when the next recession hits (maybe!), that 20-year bonds would be cheaper than 33-year bonds because they’d save on interest payments (not really, thanks to the magic of present value!), and that “history shows that a stadium is a money pit” (very true!).
- Shoring up that last point, local economist Thomas Carroll noted that an NFL stadium could just end up cannibalizing entertainment spending elsewhere in Vegas: “Activities near the stadium will gain. Property values would go up. But if you draw activities from other places, property values and economic activity could go down elsewhere. What you really need to do is sit back and say, ‘Is this such a good deal? And if it’s such a good deal, why does it have to be publicly financed?'”
- Increasing attention is being paid to a report last week by Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole that Raiders owner Mark Davis was so angry to hear that his stadium partner Sheldon Adelson would want a cut of team ownership as part of their deal, he called Adelson’s office to yell at him. It’s an entirely unsourced report — not even an “according to insiders” — but it’s been enough to spark headlines that the deal is “wobbling.”
How all this will affect the Nevada legislature when it meets in special session next week is anybody’s guess. Though there’s another wild card here, which is the NFL itself — there’s been speculation of late that not all the owners would be thrilled with approving a Raiders move to Vegas, even coming with that $750 million subsidy (which would help Davis and Adelson more than the NFL as a whole, except of course for upping the ante for cities to have to offer to attract or retain teams). Or that could just be what the NFL wants us to think, so that it can try to draw Oakland back into a bidding war for the Raiders’ services. There are too many people with their own interests who could be spreading rumors here, and since rumors is all we have, it’s tough to predict the outcome — except that if the collective 32 NFL owners have their way, somebody is going to get shaken down for nine figures worth of stadium, and ideally it’s not gonna be them.