Nothing has really changed regarding Mark Davis getting the blessing of his 31 peers to move his team to Las Vegas, but the Oakland Raiders owner amped up the pressure by declaring Sin City the “new home of the entire Raider Nation.”
That declarative statement was made in the wake of the Nevada Assembly agreeing to outlay $750 million tied to a new hotel tax that will add about $1.50 to your bill every time you stay on the strip to build a new stadium in Vegas, the kind of commitment Davis has been unable to secure in Oakland.
The massive pledge was enough for Davis to eschew any further talk with Bay Area officials and start the planning for the team his father once ping-ponged between Oakland and Los Angeles and back again depending on the political winds of the day.
“I would like to thank Governor (Brian) Sandoval, the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, and the members of the Nevada Legislature on this historic day,” Davis said. “All parties have worked extremely hard to develop and approve this tremendous stadium project that will serve as a proud new home for the entire Raider Nation.”
The talk remains just that for now partially due to Al Davis as his outlaw persona, which largely led to the current environment in which NFL rules state you need approval from three-fourths of the other owners in order to move out of any particular city.
That means the magic number is 23 for Davis because he can obviously count on himself and a supermajority like that has always been difficult unless you are as financially well-heeled, as say Stan Kroenke, who can write a check for $550 million or so to grease the rails on the way to Los Angeles from St. Louis.
“If he built it, he will come,” is really just a Hollywood creation so Vegas was smart enough to build a safety net in that none of this is put into play unless the Raiders get the approval from the NFL to move to the city.
In the past, Vegas itself has been a big problem with the NFL due to the gambling aspect of the city but that has changed at least a bit as the old-school owners have been replaced with more open-minded ones who realize that location really isn’t really the biggest contributing factor for those looking to do untoward things in the gambling world.
Then there is the commissioner, who intimated last month while in Minneapolis for the first regular-season game at U.S. Bank Stadium that he believes there is a solution to the problems in Oakland.
“No market should lose their team once, let alone twice,” Goodell told reporters when discussing the Raiders. “I believe there’s a solution in Oakland.”
Goodell never made similar remarks when Kroenke was plotting to move the Rams back out west even though St. Louis had already lost the Cardinals in a previous generation.
Davis, though, while certainly rich by any normal definition is not all that well off when compared to his fellow NFL owners and isn’t even in the same stratosphere as a real financial heavyweight like Kroenke.
So, the hurdles of getting something done are much more difficult for him because he can’t just open up his checkbook and make up a $500 million shortfall in whatever city he has his eye on.
And considering the current political climate in Oakland as well as California as a whole, at some point, the NFL is going to have to allow Davis to walk to where he is wanted unless the league itself feels like playing benefactor to keep Oakland a viable NFL market.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America