Last week, following the Nevada legislature’s vote to approve $750 million in subsidies for a stadium to bring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, I wrote that “the only people who can save Nevada from this expense now are the other 31 NFL owners.” Which seemed true at the time — but then, I hadn’t considered the possibility of the recipients of the $750 million turning against each other over how to split the loot, but that’s exactly what seems to be happening:
“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,” Adelson said on Wednesday during a travel technology conference in Tel Aviv.
Adelson, who succeeded this month in getting legislation passed to enable the construction of the stadium, said his problems now involve negotiations with the Raiders.
“They want so much,” he said. “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,'” he said.
What the hell, man! I understand that lease talks can be difficult — especially when you’re deciding how to split a ten-digit stadium construction cost, plus the revenues that would help pay it off — but seriously, you didn’t think to work any of this out before asking the legislature for $750 million? The Adelson-Davis partnership always seemed like a marriage of convenience — Adelson wanted to grab any available state hotel-tax cash before it was spent on a convention center expansion, while Davis wanted a city that would offer him lots of stadium money like Oakland was refusing to do — but you’d think they’d at least have talked about the terms of a prenup.
Whether Adelson is genuinely ready to blow up the whole deal or is just trying to shake Davis down for a bigger cut of stadium revenues is unknown. (And it could be both, really.) But this is not the kind of development that is going to make those other 31 NFL owners say, “Hey, Las Vegas, welcome to the club!” There are clearly more twists and turns to come, but a Las Vegas Raiders franchise suddenly seems a lot less likely than it did yesterday morning.