The Raiders no longer have the money required to build a new stadium in Las Vegas. Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson withdrew from the project he helped outline on Monday, and took his $650 million proposed investment with him.
Investment firm Goldman Sachs reportedly bowed out less than 24 hours later, stating their deal to finance a $1.9 billion stadium project just off the Las Vegas strip was contingent on Adelson’s involvement.
Even if all that was in order, a Las Vegas move still wouldn’t have been a sure thing. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday the league is still analyzing whether Las Vegas is a worthy location for a franchise.
“We haven’t made a determination about Las Vegas as an NFL market,” Goodell said in a press conference. “That’s part of the relocation process. The Raiders submitted an application, and that’s something we are considering carefully. There’s a great deal more work to be done, and there are several elements of that. Financing of the stadium is just one. Obviously, the stadium itself is another, as is the market. All of those are things we’ve studied over the past several months that will increase in intensity over the next month or so as we move forward in that process.”
A vote on the Raiders application to relocate was expected at the March 26-29 NFL owners meetings in Phoenix, though that seems less certain with the Raiders stadium financing currently uncertain.
It’s technically possible Adelson re-enters the fray to help get the stadium built, though it's certainly unlikely. Other Las Vegas heavyweights could invest in this prospect, but Goodell made it clear that, according to league rules, people with direct ties to gambling would not be allowed to own part of an NFL franchise or a stadium that houses one.
“We’ve always said we’re going to maintain the integrity of our game by maintaining separation between sports gambling and our game,” Goodell said. “That’s imperative for us, that the game our fans are seeing on the field doesn’t have undue influence. We recognize gambling occurs in the marketplace, but this is something for which we have rules in place.
“The Raiders have not asked us to compromise those rules as it relates to our policies. We will continue to have that separation moving forward. I don’t see an ownership position of a team from a casino. That is something inconsistent with our policies. …Not likely a stadium, either.”
Adelson helped the Raiders secure $750 million in public funds via a hotel tax. The Sands CEO offered $650 million and the Raiders promised $500 million, a sum that includes $200 million from an NFL loan. Goldman Sachs planned to finance the private portions of the stadium funding, though they've re-evaluated their proposed investment. There's now a funding gap that must be bridged, but the Raiders quest for Las Vegas is not over. The Raiders have team options on a one-year lease to play at Oakland Coliseum in 2017 and 2018, so there's no immediate, hard deadline to secure additional funds.