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Bank of America backing boosts Vegas bid for Oakland Raiders

The efforts of NFL American football franchise the Oakland Raiders to relocate to Las Vegas have been boosted with the news that Bank of America has agreed to step in to fill a financial black hole that had been created in a project to develop a new stadium in the Nevada city.

According to multiple reports, Bank of America will provide the funding that was set to be offered by Sheldon Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. The Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper said an NFL owners meeting yesterday (Monday) saw Raiders owners Mark Davis and team president Marc Badain inform the league’s finance committee that funding for the planned 65,000-seat facility is in place with the banking giant, which regularly does business with the NFL.

Bank of America’s $650m (€612m) stake will be a loan and will not include an equity stake in the team or the stadium, according to the newspaper. Badain last month insisted that financing the team’s proposed move from California to Nevada will not be an issue, despite the project having lost one of its key backers.

In October, the Raiders had a $1.9bn funding package for a new stadium in Las Vegas approved by the Nevada state legislature. In January, the team filed paperwork with the NFL for the relocation. The Raiders had initially planned to put $500m towards the project, with $750m to come from increases in hotel room taxes in Clark County.

The additional $650m had been set to come from Adelson, but he withdrew his support for the project after the Raiders submitted a proposed lease agreement worth just $1 per year in peppercorn rent to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority. The Adelson family, which had played a key role in the Raiders’ proposed relocation, was not included in the agreement. Investment bank Goldman Sachs, a long-time business partner of Adelson, also withdrew its support for the project.

The Associated Press news agency said that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf also addressed Monday’s meeting in South Florida in an effort to persuade owners to prevent the Raiders from moving. However, Schaaf is said to have offered no new plans to satisfy concerns from the league about a proposed new stadium in Oakland near the site of the existing Coliseum.

The Raiders have long been unhappy with their current O.Co Coliseum home, which it shares with MLB baseball outfit Oakland Athletics. In February 2016, the Raiders signed a one-year lease extension to remain at the facility for the 2016 season, with an option to extend for the 2017 and 2018 campaigns.

The Review-Journal said the Raiders told the finance and stadium committees on Monday that everything is in place for a relocation vote at the NFL Annual Meeting, which will be held from March 26-29 in Phoenix. Twenty-four of 32 owners must approve the proposal to confirm the Raiders’ switch.

However, a new stadium is not expected to be ready before 2020, leaving the Raiders with the prospect of finding a temporary home for the 2019 season if the team does move to Las Vegas.