Davis pledges $500m toward Vegas stadium, could actually ask taxpayers to pay entire $1.4B cost

Here it is, the big Oakland Raiders Las Vegas announcement you were waiting for since it was first leaked at the beginning of the week:

[Raiders owner Mark] Davis told an influential tourism committee gathered at UNLV that the Raiders would put up $500 million toward the stadium if Nevada legislators approve public funding for the project and other NFL owners allow the team to relocate…

“We do want to be your partners. We’re not coming in looking for a free handout,” Davis said. “I want to tell you what I told Gov. Sandoval a few weeks ago: Together, we can turn the Silver State into the Silver and Black State.”

That’s not exactly the catchiest slogan, but never you mind about that. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what Davis (and billionaire would-be Vegas stadium builder) Sheldon Adelson) are offering, and what they’re asking for:

  • The stadium would now cost $1.4 billion, up from $1.2 billion just a couple of months ago, presumably because if it’s hosting an NFL team it’s going to need a snazzier eternal flame.
  • Davis’s $500 million pledge would include $200 million in NFL G-4 money, plus $300 million out of his own pocket.
  • As for the other $900 million, $750 million of it would be from hotel and rental-car taxes (down slightly from $780 million in the last proposal), and the other $150 million would be in mystery “private funds.” Since we haven’t mentioned Adelson yet, and he has $150 million in loose change in a jar in his kitchen, maybe he could bring that.

That’s the deal as presented in the headlines today. What’s being largely overlooked is this, which appeared way down in the 18th paragraph of the Las Vegas Sun’s story:

The companies would also want a tax increment district in the area around the stadium. Details would still need to be ironed out, but Majestic executive Craig Cavileer said the district would help the stadium’s private backers get a return on their investment.

This is potentially huge: “tax increment financing,” for those who need a reminder, involves kicking back increased property and/or sales taxes from an area around a development project, to help pay the project’s costs. We obviously have no idea how much money it could provide — depending on how big you draw the district, it can generate an almost unlimited amount of tax revenue — but if Adelson and Davis are looking at this as a way to provide a “return on investment,” that means it’s going to go to reimburse their $650 million in costs, not state taxpayers’ $750 million. In other words, if enough TIF money can be agreed on, the private costs could be as low as zero, with the entire $1.4 billion nut either provided by tourist taxes or by TIFs.

It’s an incredible bit of media legerdemain to turn a request for potentially the largest NFL stadium subsidy in history into headlines about a promise to put up half a billion dollars in private funds — props to Davis’s (or more likely Adelson’s) PR strategist for coming up with this one. And that’s before even getting to Davis’s “commitment” to Las Vegas, which as I predicted Wednesday comes with a whopping out clause, in that if he gets an offer he likes better, he can always have the NFL vote against the move, and say, “Hey, sorry, they wouldn’t let me go to Vegas, I tried.”

Not that I expect Davis or the NFL to turn down this deal if it really includes both $750 million in cash plus additional TIF subsidies, because who would turn down a new $1.4 billion stadium essentially for free, regardless of what market it’s in? We still have to see if the Nevada legislature is crazy enough to approve it, but this is no longer merely a leverage deal: It’s an attempt at the biggest public cash grab in NFL history, which if Davis can pull it off despite currently having zero other legitimate bidders for his team’s presence would seriously move him up the rankings of evil supergeniuses with questionable haircuts.

Mark Davis definitely going to announce plans to use Las Vegas as Raiders move threat

We have another “Mark Davis is gonna say something about the Oakland Raiders and Las Vegas on Thursday” report, this one with sources that are, if not named, at least identified a bit beyond the earlier rumors:

Davis’ appearance Thursday – and the commitment he is expected to make – could be a difference-maker. Davis will leave no doubt his franchise will pursue relocation to Las Vegas if the stadium project is approved.

“It’s huge because the committee sees (the Raiders) as serious,” a source close to the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told this newspaper. “And if (the committee) approves the funding, there will be no stopping the train.”

Meanwhile, there is growing sentiment within the NFL that fellow owners are opening up to Las Vegas and granting Davis his wish to move there should he request it.

“It would be a good home for them,” said a high-ranking NFL source.

This pair of anonymous quotes — in particular the one identified as being from the NFL — give us a bit more of a sense of what’s going on here. Davis is clearly shopping around for a better stadium deal than he has now in Oakland (which isn’t a bad stadium deal, mind you, but it’s not as good as all the other teams that have brand-new stadiums that were largely paid for by someone other than them), and if Las Vegas ends up building a stadium, he wants to shake that tree now while the tree-shaking is good. And the league office is at least tacitly giving him the go-ahead to do this, because why the hell wouldn’t they? Having stadium offers in pocket is the lifeblood of the industry, almost as much as buying the silence of brain-injured players, plus it helps out a friendly local billionaire, and you never know when you’re going to need one of those.

Now, does this mean the Raiders are actually moving to Las Vegas? Not by a longshot, at least not yet. First off, Nevada still has to approve the $780 million in subsidies that billionaire Sheldon Adelson is looking for, and that phrase right there is why it’s likely to be an uphill battle. But even if the stadium is approved, “pursuing relocation to Las Vegas” is no guarantee of relocating to Las Vegas — Davis could change his mind if he gets a better offer from elsewhere, or the NFL could change his mind for him, or (most likely) he could change his mind and then have the NFL deny him approval to move (or place an exorbitant relocation fee on it) to provide him with plausible deniability if he decides he’d rather move to Los Angeles or San Antonio or Walla Walla or wherever.

Las Vegas wouldn’t be as terrible a location for the NFL as for, say, hockey: Sure, Vegas’s TV is smaller than West Palm Beach and the only people with any spending money there are tourists, but football is the one sport where local TV deals don’t matter, and with only eight games a year maybe the Raiders could sell themselves as a destination theme vacation or something. I’m not saying it’s a good idea — staying put in Oakland, even in an older stadium, could well be better — but it’s not completely crazy. And as far as creating leverage goes, it makes perfect sense. Plus Davis can make a side trip for a haircut!

Some sportswriters say they totally heard the Raiders are moving to Vegas, no really, a guy said it

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis is following up his appearance at a Nevada state legislative hearing two weeks ago on a new Las Vegas football stadium with an appearance at another meeting of state officials this Thursday, and … and that’s really all we have to go on, but certain football writers, citing “sources” in one case and their own brains in another, are still off to the races:

And from a Twitlonger by Joe Arrigo:

Here is what I can confirm and KNOW in regards to the Raiders and a move to Las Vegas.
The Sands Group (who is attempting to build the stadium) is meeting this Thursday to discuss (and potentially approve) a new stadium for the UNLV football program and the Raiders.
Mark Davis, the Raiders owner, will be in attendance at the meeting on Thursday and speak at the meeting as well. Davis is ready to commit to moving the Raiders to Las Vegas at the meeting Thursday if they approve the new stadium.
The Raiders would move in 2017 or 2018 and play at Sam Boyd stadium until the new stadium is built. Davis already has toured the stadium with Tony Sanchez and the UNLV president and AD, and is on board with playing there temporarily.

Cole is an NFL columnist for Bleacher Report who specializes in Q&A’s with current players, which doesn’t seem like the best way to get the inside scoop on whether the Raiders are moving to Las Vegas. [UPDATE: Cole would like you to know that “whatever dude, I’ve been on the stadium/LA issue for 10 years.”] Arrigo, per his Twitter bio, is a high-school wide receivers coach, and a former radio host, and runs a UNLV fan site, which makes “Q&A reporter for Bleacher Report” seem like Bob frickin’ Woodward.

Since we’re here, though, here are the reasons why it’s extremely unlikely that Mark Davis will be moving the Raiders to Las Vegas anytime soon:

  1. The Raiders still have second dibs on sharing the Los Angeles Rams‘ new Inglewood stadium, if the San Diego Chargers pass it up. The Chargers probably won’t — their campaign for a new stadium in San Diego is currently somewhere between “longshot” and “train wreck” — but it’d be nuts for Davis to throw away the option before he sees what becomes of it.
  2. Notwithstanding Joe Arrigo, the Vegas stadium is not going to be approved this Thursday. First off, this isn’t even a meeting of the state legislature, but of something called the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, a group of political and business leaders convened by the governor to examine possible tourism initiatives and report back this summer. Secondly, there’s the little matter of the $780 million in public subsidies that billionaire Sheldon Adelson wants for his proposed stadium, which is going to take a while to put together, if it gets any traction at all.

Still, media events like this aren’t meant to signify anything real, they’re meant to provide a sense of “momentum” to stadium projects — so Davis and Adelson and the NFL must be just thrilled that NBC Sports’ Mike Florio is reporting exactly that. In an age where people are famous for being famous, getting credited with momentum for leaking news to the press that you have momentum is probably the next logical step.

Mark Davis to speak at Nevada legislature about moving Raiders to Vegas OMG OMG OMG

Stop the presses! Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis is going to speak to the Nevada state legislature about moving his team to Las Vegas!

The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee meets April 28 at UNLV to review tourism-related projects for possible state funding. A 65,000-seat stadium in the Strip resort corridor is among the projects under consideration for recommendation to the Nevada Legislature. Davis will be at the meeting to address the stadium plan and the Raiders’ potential move, a source confirmed Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

Presses all stopped? Good. And now start them back up again, because that’s all we have — for all we know Davis is just going to say that Las Vegas would work well with his brand like he did two months ago. He’s certainly doing a good job of creating leverage, plus headlines for the newspaper owned by the billionaire seeking $780 million in public money to help him build an NFL-ready stadium in Las Vegas. Synergy!

So would Davis ever really move the Raiders to Vegas? It’s not as crazy as it would be in other sports: Local TV market size doesn’t matter much in the NFL, so moving from the Bay Area to the nation’s 42nd-largest TV market isn’t such a huge deal. On the other hand, the Rams‘ move to Los Angeles is a sign that market size does matter even in the NFL in terms of things like PSL sales and naming rights. But Vegas is a kind of a special case, with lots of people who don’t live there spending lots of money. Except that hardly any of them are likely to be Raiders fans, so they’re not likely to put up big money for season tickets or anything. But Mark Davis is Mark Davis, and he doesn’t have a lot of other great options…

I’m still putting my money on “leverage ploy,” because that’s usually what these things are, but there are enough moving parts here that we can’t totally blow this off as a bluff. Set your watches for April 28, and we’ll see what happens.

Raiders could go to Vegas if stadium is built, reports paper owned by billionaire seeking stadium cash

The Oakland Raiders-to-Las Vegas rumor mill is kicking into high gear: First you had bazillionaire Sheldon Adelson hinting that he’d meet with Raiders owner Mark Davis about playing in a new Vegas stadium (so long as Adelson got $780 million in public money to help build one), and now it’s “multiple sources” saying the Raiders could play some exhibition games or even one regular-season game a year in Vegas to “build their fan base” if a new stadium is approved.

Davis wouldn’t comment, so it’s pretty likely that these sources are from Adelson’s camp — especially when you consider that the report comes from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which is owned by Sheldon Adelson, who has previously thought nothing of arm-twisting his newspaper employees to write what he wanted about his personal business dealings. (Though maybe he’s just such a lovable guy that they do it without being asked. Who knows?) Either way, it helps Davis, too, who gets to use Vegas as a threat in his ongoing stadium negotiations with Oakland, and maybe San Antonio or any other cities he plans on threatening to move to. A savvy negotiator creates leverage, and what better way to create leverage than to own your own newspaper? Corporate synergy is a beautiful thing.

 

Sheldon Adelson is actually claiming tourists will avoid Vegas without a publicly funded NFL stadium

Whether because new boss Sheldon Adelson has commanded it or because the staff doesn’t want to be accused of giving it insufficient attention because of the new boss, the Las Vegas Review-Journal is clearly going to be giving tons of coverage to Adelson’s $1.2 billion football stadium plan. Up today: an article headlined “Lobbying for new Las Vegas stadium begins,” which is honest to god about two guys talking, but nobody knows what they said:

Steve Hill, the governor’s top economic development official and the chairman of a tourism infrastructure panel that will hear the stadium plan next month, said he met with Ed Roski, who owns Majestic Realty Co., a Sands partner on the project.

Roski could not be reached for comment, and Majestic Executive Vice President Craig Cavileer declined to comment Monday.

On Monday, Hill said he met with Roski while visiting the Los Angeles area last week. Hill said he meets with groups to “get a better understanding of projects” and discussed the tourism infrastructure committee process with Roski.

“I wasn’t looking for a reaction,” Hill said.

Yes, that’s Ed Roski of City of Industry vaportecture stadium fame, who is apparently part of Adelson’s stadium cabal. So he and a representative of the Nevada governor talked, and, yeah, well, that’s about it.

Anything else in this story worth actually paying attention to? There’s the revelation that Majestic is seeking to get state “tourism-related taxes” for the project (hotel, car-rental, and taxi taxes, as Adelson indicated earlier) approved at a special session of the state Legislature this summer. And Las Vegas Sands spokesperson Ron Reese said of the Hill-Roski meeting, “These are the type of discussions that potentially impact the future of tourism in Las Vegas,” so presumably that’s going to be their sales pitch: Nobody will come to Las Vegas without a new publicly funded football stadium. Maybe if they repeat it enough times, they’ll learn to say it with a straight face.

Billionaire wants $780m in tax money to build an NFL stadium for him in Las Vegas

We now have a hint of how Sheldon Adelson’s “public-private partnership” for a Las Vegas football stadium would work, and it’d probably be better called a “public-public-private partnership,” or maybe a “publicprivate partnership”:

A domed stadium proposed for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas football team has a price tag of $1.2 billion, and developers would seek $780 million in public financing, according to a document provided by Las Vegas Sands Corp., which is leading a consortium behind the project.

Private investors would contribute $420 million toward the planned 65,000-seat stadium, with various tourist-driven tax sources — commercial conveyance on taxicabs, rental car taxes or hotel room taxes — providing the bulk of the funding.

This is more or less the same funding scheme put forward by UNLV two years ago, except that the stadium price tag has gone up by $300 million since then, so the subsidy demand has as well. Putting in $780 million in tax money would be a stupendous amount of public cash — depending on how you count and whether the stadium would also get property tax breaks (probably), it could end up the most expensive public subsidy ever for a football stadium.

Of course, Adelson’s casino company also provided numbers to justify how this would be a great thing for Clark County to spend money on, telling the newspaper that Adelson owns that “the domed stadium would provide $600 million to $800 million in total annual economic benefit,” which is even more than consultant Convention, Sports and Leisure estimated two years ago.

But, you know, inflation or something. Or maybe just the fact that an extra $300 million in cost means you need an extra $300 million in economic benefit to make it still look good, But surely a consultant owned by the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees would never reverse-engineer figures like that, right?

 

Adelson wants $1b Vegas stadium funded by “public-private partnership,” possibly to lure Raiders

The University of Nevada Las Vegas’s plans to put off further discussion of a new campus football stadium until 2017 just got upended yesterday, as Sands casino company owner Sheldon Adelson announced that he wants in on building a $1 billion domed stadium for UNLV — and plans to meet with Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis about possibly having his team play there.

Adelson should be familiar to anyone with an interest in national politics or the journalism industry: He’s a major Republican campaign donor who has had all the GOP presidential candidates competing for his sweet, sweet cash endorsement, and recently bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal while hiding behind a Connecticut newspaper publisher who curried favor with his new boss by writing positive articles about him under a pseudonymous byline.

It may or may not be connected, but the Review-Journal’s story on Adelson’s proposed stadium contains some of the more hilariously credulous statements about a stadium proposal that have been seen in these parts in some time. Let’s begin:

Andy Abboud, Las Vegas Sands’ senior vice president of government relations and community development, said Thursday that Las Vegas needs a modern stadium with at least 65,000 seats to drive additional tourism to Southern Nevada…

“We are moving forward with the stadium concept with or without an NFL team,” Abboud said Thursday. “We see a lot more opportunities — conference championships, bowl games, NFL exhibition football, boxing, soccer, neutral site games, and music festivals. There is an entire segment out there.”…

Abboud said the project would be a “public-private partnership” in which Las Vegas Sands or the Adelson family would contribute an unspecified large portion of the financing.

Okay, sure, it’s Abboud saying all those things, not the R-J. But still, letting stand unchallenged the notions that 1) Las Vegas — Las Vegas — is missing out of tourists because it doesn’t have a 65,000-seat football stadium, 2) stuff like boxing and music festivals is going to represent a significant amount of income for a domed football stadium, and 3) an amount of money can be simultaneously “large” and “unspecified” is pretty dismal journalism. You couldn’t even pick up the phone and call one person not involved in the deal to see whether any of these claims are remotely realistic? Maybe we should check that byline again…

Manager of local Subway thinks UNLV stadium will help sandwich business, is wrong

UNLV still isn’t even thinking about asking for state money for a new football stadium until 2017 (though it is hoping the buy the land by the end of this year), but that’s not going to stop intrepid Las Vegas Review-Journal reporters from asking local businesses what they think of this stadium that may or may not ever be built on their doorstep:

“It would bring more business all day long,” said Breina Colbert, a 2013 UNLV graduate who is the manager at the Einsteins bagel shop, one of 16 Einsteins stores in Las Vegas.

The district manager for the Subway submarine sandwich shop in the McCarran Village shopping center agreed a stadium next door would be great for business.

“More foot traffic is always good,” said Subway district manager Derek Bushberger, who is also a UNLV graduate. “It would bring people to the area. I’m all for it.”

Let’s do the math here: UNLV football plays six home games a year. There are 365 days in a year. The only way this football is going to bring business “all day long” is if the stadium catches on fire and the university sells tickets to see the ruins.

Okay, that’s not quite fair: There’s supposed to be additional commercial development on the site, too, so maybe that will bring in more 24/7 foot traffic. Let’s see, what do they have planned?

— Four to five quick-service restaurants of 2,500-3,000 square feet each. Possible brands could be Blaze Pizza or Pita Pit.

— Four to five sit-down restaurants of 6,000-8,000 square feet each. Possible brands include Buffalo Wild Wings.

— A UNLV themed restaurant/bar of 6,000-8,000 square feet.

— Entertainment building of 30,000 square feet for a brand such as Dave & Buster’s.

— Ancillary retail of 10,000-12,000 square feet.

So, sure, people might get hungry and want to stop for bagels on the way to … the Buffalo Wild Wings? I guess when your job is running a bagel chain outlet in Las Vegas, you have to find any way possible to give hope to your existence, though “Maybe I can apply for a job managing the Pita Pit!” probably would have been more honest.

Every city in the U.S. still thinks it can get an MLS franchise, and you know what that means

Sacramento Republic FC has chosen a designer for a new soccer stadium if it makes it to MLS (not that it doesn’t already have design renderings — hope you know how to design magical purple glowing radio towers, HNTB!), and the mayor of San Antonio is looking to help bring an MLS team to an expanded stadium in her city even as the local NASL owner is selling his franchise, and some developers in Las Vegas want to convert the 51’s minor-league baseball stadium for an MLS team, and…

…you know what? I’m going to go watch some baseball at the place with the free tickets. If there’s any important stadium news the rest of this week I’ll check in. If it’s just more MLS expansion teams, it can wait till next week.

Meanwhile, enjoy your vaportecture porn:

RepublicStadium2