Stadium Finance

The Raiders Will Move To Vegas Because Everyone Is Greedy And Dumb

As a result, even more public money will end up with billionaires

Stadium Finance
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Mar 27, 2017 at 12:53 PM ET

Congratulations, Las Vegas. Barring any unforeseen developments, you’ll get the pro football team you’ve been pining for, the soon-to-be former Oakland Raiders.

Over the weekend, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Commissioner Roger Goodell sent each other letters, both of which were made public.

Schaaf reminded Goodell that there is a plan for a new Oakland football-only stadium in place, albeit one that doesn’t fork over $750 million in hotel taxes to Mark Davis. As part of the $1.3-billion-dollar proposal that was approved in December 2016 by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, $200 million in taxpayer dollars would be spent on infrastructure improvements and they’d give away 130 city-owned acres for the new stadium, currently valued at $150 million.

In response, Goodell told Schaaf it wasn’t enough.

“The material that we reviewed earlier today … confirms that key issues that we have identified as threshold considerations are simply not resolvable in a reasonable time,” Goodell writes, though he never specified exactly what those key issues are. “In that respect, the information sent today does not present a proposal that is clear and specific, actionable in a reasonable time frame and free of major contingencies.”

Then again, considering someone in the NFL was all too happy to leak Goodell’s letter to multiple outlets, there’s no way he was going to get into the nitty-gritty of what the NFL would need in order to keep the Raiders in Oakland.

He didn’t need to, of course. It’s pretty clear why Goodell and the other 31 owners want this move to happen. Beyond the precedent-setting record amount of public cash, Davis also wants to pay one dollar a year in rent and keep all the money earned by selling the stadium’s naming rights and all the advertising dollars. That’s the kind of thing that happens when a municipality rubber-stamps a deal before hammering out all the details in a lease agreement.

Plus, Davis included a deadly state-of-the-art clause, which could compel Nevadans to pay an untold fortune or provide Davis with the means to ditch Las Vegas, all to ensure that Chez Davis is on par with whatever giveaways and shiny baubles are served up by the next batch of NFL-hungry suckers.

“I just think that Vegas is offering a big chunk of money,” Clark County commissioner Steve Sisolak told the MMQB’s Albert Breer. “I think owners are going to welcome that.” An unnamed owner also told Breer that because he was able to snag so many goodies, “Davis should’ve been a candidate for executive of the year.”

If you need any more proof, the NFL will only be charging Davis somewhere between $325 million and $375 million in relocation fees, per reports, a considerable drop off from the $650 million assessed to the now-Los Angeles Rams and Chargers.

To justify raiding the public coffers, both Nevada officials and the Raiders have promised that the allure of watching Large Adult Sons slam into one another on Sunday will send swarms of otherwise uninterested tourists flocking to Las Vegas.  According to Stanford economist Roger Noll, that makes zero sense.

Via the San Jose Mercury-News:

“The question is, why are they persisting?” Noll said. “Why would they go with this phony baloney stuff that Vegas is different. Why would they believe a half a million who would never visit Vegas would suddenly show up because there is a football stadium? It’s so far out there it is a puzzle.”

But for Davis, the risk of sparse attendance is worth it. The endgame is getting a taxpayer-subsidized mega-football temple built, even if it means leaving a much larger population and television market in the Bay Area for one of the smallest in the league. As Deadspin notes, the sports TV rights boom will come crashing down eventually, and this gives Davis a way to cash out no matter what happens.

The vote will be held on Monday at the NFL’s annual spring meeting in Phoenix, but over the last week, the various information merchants have reported that Davis has locked up more than the 24 votes he needs.

Meanwhile, Clark County schools are facing “impending major systems failures” after receiving a significant funding shortfall, with kids crammed into classrooms. Maybe they can teach classes at a half-empty football stadium instead.

UPDATEThe Raiders are moving to Vegas. The team will remain in Oakland through the 2018 season (and possibly 2019 while what’s sure to be a gold-plated, overwrought monument to curious consumption gets built.)

Oh, and because Sin City wasn’t aware that this was in the bag, over the weekend, someone felt it was necessary to gift Mark Davis an additional $200 million in “maintenance costs” and $200 million was lopped off the estimated final price tag for the stadium, making a grand total of $950 million in taxpayer dollars. Really great work, everybody.