LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Raiders owner Mark Davis’ plan to move the team to Las Vegas is reportedly in jeopardy after billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson announced he has pulled out of a deal to build a $1.9 billion domed stadium in Sin City.
Adelson’s withdrawal Monday from the deal has also forced Goldman Sachs, which had planned to help underwrite Davis’ financial commitment to the stadium deal, to reconsider its investment, ESPN reported Tuesday.
With the stadium financing in flux, the entire relocation plan has been called into question, according to ESPN.
Adelson was expected to play an instrumental role in luring the Raiders to Las Vegas. He and his family had pledged $650 million to the stadium — an amount the team will now have to seek from other sources. The Raiders have promised $500 million. The remaining $750 million was to come from state taxpayers.
The Raiders are now considering picking up Adelson’s portion of the bill. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office said a lease agreement submitted last week would have the Raiders shoulder $1.15 billion of the cost of the stadium, and accept operation responsibilities and risk.
In a statement, the Raiders acknowledged Adelson’s involvement in the project over the past year and promised to make good on owner Mark Davis’ vow to move to Las Vegas.
The lease proposal would have the Raiders operate the 65,000-seat stadium that would be built at a site yet to be decided, probably just off the Las Vegas Strip.
In Adelson’s terse statement, the chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp. declared that he had been shut out of talks that led to the lease document presented to the Clark County Stadium Authority.
“We were not only excluded from the proposed agreement,” Adelson said, “we weren’t even aware of its existence.”
Sands owns the Venetian and Palazzo resorts and a convention center on the Las Vegas Strip, and several casinos in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau. Adelson is a big backer of Republican Party causes, and his family also owns the local newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“It’s clear the Raiders have decided their path for moving to Las Vegas does not include the Adelson family,” Adelson’s statement said. “So, regrettably, we will no longer be involved in any facet of the stadium discussion.”
Stadium Authority Chairman Steve Hill, who also serves as Sandoval’s development chief, vowed to “continue to ensure the stadium project is developed in a manner consistent with the clear direction of Nevada lawmakers.”
The plan isn’t only to bring an NFL franchise to Nevada, but also to build a stadium for UNLV football “and enhance our state’s core tourism economy,” Hill said.
Sandoval, a Republican who called lawmakers into a special session to approve tax funding for the project, thanked the Adelson family “for their role in bringing a publicly-owned stadium to Las Vegas.”
“It is unfortunate that they were unable to come to terms with the Raiders,” the governor said.
He added that terms of the law passed to fund the public portion of the project won’t change, “and the state’s contribution will not increase as a result of this announcement.”
Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, who has been intimately involved in the stadium and Raiders plan, characterized Adelson’s departure as “a significant setback … unless Goldman Sachs has someone lined up to step into Adelson’s place.”
“I do not know how the other owners are going to react to this,” Sisolak said.
Any relocation to Las Vegas must be approved by 24 of the 32 NFL team owners. A vote is expected during league meetings in March in Phoenix.
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