The deal to provide the Oakland Raiders with a record $750 million in public money toward a new stadium in Las Vegas is done. But the rich assholes who want to savor the spoils still have a lot to play for.
Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and grumpy ham hock who’s pledged $650 million of his own money toward the project, has told Reuters he’s willing to scuttle the deal entirely if the Raiders keep demanding more stuff. This comes after Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval already signed into law a hotel tax increase that would cover the public’s share of the proposed $1.9 billion stadium.
The Raiders, incidentally, are expected to kick in $500 million, but Adelson has previously said that $200 million of that would come from a loan from the NFL, and that the sale of personal seat licenses would likely cover some of the rest. In other words, Raiders owner Mark Davis doesn’t have a lot of skin in this game, even as he stands to reap the benefits of an increase in franchise value by carpetbagging it to Vegas. Still, according to Adelson, Davis apparently isn’t satisfied. From Reuters today:
“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.
Adelson declined to elaborate on what else it is the Raiders want. Last month, Davis responded angrily to a report that Adelson was interested in an ownership stake as a condition of moving the team. Three-fourths of NFL owners are required to approve a franchise relocation, and a decision isn’t expected until early next year.
Adelson could well be bluffing here—would he really walk away from the project now, after the public’s share has been approved?—but he also recently boasted to Yahoo Finance about how much “fuck you” money he has, taking care to leave every impression he could take the Raiders or leave them:
“But I’m not going to sell Davis; either he wants it or he doesn’t want it. The matter is very simple. I could live with any deal, I could live without any deal. A guy in my position doesn’t need anything. I’ve got everything I need, I can do anything I want. I don’t need this. If I’m going to have to go out and beg Mark Davis or somebody else to do it, I’m out. If they want to find somebody who is desperate as a football fan and wants to be a part of a football club, then they picked the wrong guy. That’s not me.”
Remember: This is still a negotiation. “Oakland was in the driver’s seat if they could’ve put together anything,” Davis told reporters last week. “They came up with nothing. Las Vegas has already done what it is supposed to do.” Adelson’s true intentions here aren’t the point. All he’s done is give Davis a chance to take his ball back to Oakland, to keep this game going, even if we already know who’s likely going to lose.