In the drips and drops that have characterized much of the information flow rewarding Mark Davis’ financial plan for relocating his legacy – a.k.a. the Raiders – the shoes have finally dropped.
Davis’ right hand, team president Marc Badain, told the NFL’s finance committee Monday in Lantana, FL, that Bank Of America will cover the financing gap in the Las Vegas stadium plan that would presumably house the Raiders if they are allowed to relocate.
The Las Vegas Journal Review reported, and CSNBayArea.com's Scott Bair confirmed, the news after Badain’s presentation, which was designed to soothe worried voters who saw casino owner Sheldon Adelson and then Goldman Sachs pull out of the deal. Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Daily originally mentioned Bank of America and US Bank as investors, but it is not entirely clear if Bank Of America is providing the financing for the $650 million Adelson had originally pledged or a higher amount. There are apparently no other new investors.
Badain also told the owners’ finance and stadium committees that everything is in place for a relocation vote at the NFL meeting March 26-29 in Phoenix.
Bank of America does a significant amount of business with the NFL, most visible being the naming of the stadium in Charlotte where the Panthers play. Thus, there would need to be minimal vetting of the financial institution in advance of the meetings.
It is not clear whether Dallas owner Jerry Jones helped broker the B of A deal, although rumors surfaced over the last week that he was working to locate financing to make up for Adelson’s withdrawal.
According to the financing plan, Bank of America would finance slightly more than a third of the advertised $1.9 billion for the stadium. In addition, the State of Nevada voted late last year to provide $750 million through a bond issue funded by hotel taxes, and the Raiders and the NFL would be responsible for the remaining $500 million.
Thus, the remaining hurdle for the relocation is now down to owners’ whim. The greatest doubt all along among the owners was whether Davis could secure the money, and now that it seems he has, the only matters that could derail the deal are a latent reluctance to being so closely associated to gambling and Las Vegas’ modest market size.
The gambling issue has been ameliorated by the fact that there are no casino owners or operators involved in the financing. That had been a worry for some owners when Adelson was bringing the cash, especially those owners who had been forced to divest their own casino interests by league rule.
The market size matter remains, but Oakland is largely considered a non-factor by most owners now. The stadium plan offered by Mayor Libby Schaaf and the Fortress Group, which is now controlled by SoftBank, has been derided as both inadequate and unacceptable by the league, and though Schaaf was in Lantana, sources told USA Today's Tom Pellissero that there were no revisions to the original offer.
Thus, Davis has done everything he has been asked to do, and now is a vote away from beating the massive odds people were willing to lay that he would never be allowed to put his team in that city. We will know in three weeks – unless the owners put off a vote until the owners gather next in Chicago in late May, or decide to vote via conference call in the interim.
But if normal protocol is followed, the owners will gather in Phoenix to decide Oakland’s fate as an NFL town for a second time.