Sheldon Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, has withdrawn financial support for a proposed new stadium for NFL American football franchise the Oakland Raiders in Nevada.
In October, the team had a $1.9bn (€1.77bn) funding package for a new stadium in Las Vegas approved by the Nevada state Legislature. Adelson had agreed to pledge $650m to the project, the rest of which would have been funded by the Raiders and an increase in hotel room taxes in Clark County.
The Raiders had initially planned on providing $500m but, according to the ESPN website, is now prepared to shoulder the additional $650m. The increased commitment would bring the Raiders’ total backing to $1.15bn, with the additional $750m to come from the raise in hotel room taxes.
Adelson chose to withdraw his backing after the Raiders last week submitted a proposed lease agreement worth just $1 a year in peppercorn rent to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority. The Adelson family, which has played a key role in the Raiders' proposed relocation, was not included in the agreement.
In a statement reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper, Adelson said: “It was certainly shocking to the Adelson family. We were not only excluded from the proposed agreement; we weren’t even aware of its existence.
“It’s clear the Raiders have decided their path for moving to Las Vegas does not include the Adelson family. So, regrettably, we will no longer be involved in any facet of the stadium discussion.”
The Review-Journal, citing a source close to Adelson, said that Raiders owner Mark Davis had been in Adelson’s office last week while the club’s president Marc Badain and executive vice-president Dan Ventrelle were proposing the lease agreement to the stadium authority board.
Adelson’s statement added: “While this is not the result my family was hoping for, I am very appreciative of the countless people who have given considerable time and energy to this process, especially so many of our elected officials who have made this a top priority for Southern Nevada.”
In a statement, the Raiders said the franchise deeply appreciated the efforts of the Adelson family to take the Raiders to Las Vegas. Earlier this month, Raiders officials reportedly said that construction would be financed by Goldman Sachs — with or without the Adelsons as partners. However, Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak has voiced his scepticism that the US finance giant can fill the void left by the Adelsons’ exit.
“The Raiders are putting a lot of hopes in the Goldman Sachs commitments, but I don’t know the extent of their commitments, and I certainly do not share that same level of hope,” Sisolak told the Review-Journal. “If (the Raiders) have a Plan B, I’m not aware of it, and the owners meeting is coming up in two months.”
The Raiders will remain in Oakland for the immediate future and the team will play the 2017 and 2018 seasons in California. A new stadium in Las Vegas is unlikely to open before 2020. The Raiders this month filed paperwork with the NFL to relocate to Las Vegas.
The relocation of a franchise requires the support of at least 24 of the NFL’s 32 clubs in a vote that is expected to occur in March.