LAS VEGAS, Nevada (KTVU and Wires) - Raiders owner Mark Davis says he wants to move the team to Las Vegas and is willing to spend a half billion dollars as part of a deal for a new stadium in the city.
Davis upped the ante in a bid to move the team to this gambling city, appearing Thursday alongside soccer great David Beckham and billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson before a committee studying the idea of a $1.4 billion stadium.
He told committee members he is not a billionaire but will put $500 million — with $200 million of that coming from an NFL loan — into funding the stadium to move the team to Las Vegas.
"Together we can turn the Silver State into the silver and black state," Davis said.
Davis noted the Raiders played in Las Vegas in an exhibition in 1964 that was the only game by future NFL teams in the city. The Raiders beat Houston before an overflow crowd at the city's baseball field.
"With your help it won't be another 50 years before the Raiders play another game in Las Vegas," Davis said.
The Raiders released a statement saying, "The Raiders would like to thank the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee and Mayor Goodman for their time today as we continue to explore options for a permanent stadium solution. We appreciate the support and passion of Raiders fans everywhere."
Raiders owner Mark Davis pledges $500M to help build
Adelson, owner of Las Vegas Sands, is spearheading building a 65,000-seat stadium just off the Las Vegas Strip to host a variety of events, including UNLV football, soccer matches and major concerts. But it is the inclusion of the Raiders that is pushing the stadium forward, and the appearance of Davis before the committee was the most solid commitment to date to moving an NFL team to the city.
The Raiders have a one-year lease in Oakland for next season, and Davis indicated the team would likely stay there until a new stadium is built. He said the Raiders could play a preseason game in the aging 40,000-seat UNLV stadium but that it wasn't suitable for regular-season games.
Davis said he was committed to carrying on his father's legacy with the Raiders, and that the No. 1 thing to ensure the Raiders brand lives on is that the team gets a new stadium.
The NFL has long shunned Las Vegas, refusing its TV ads and telling players not to make appearances at casinos. But Davis said he believes owners will approve the move if the stadium is built.
"If we give them an offer they can't refuse and that's what we're talking about now, I don't see a problem," Davis said.
The meeting before the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee comes as the push for a stadium enters a sprint. Backers said they would ask for a special session of the Nevada Legislature in August to approve diverting some room tax funds for the stadium.
In all, Davis, Adelson and others want to put $650 million into the stadium, with the rest being generated by tourism taxes.
Beckham, who is behind a proposed Miami Major League Soccer franchise, sat next to Davis at the meeting, adding a bit of star power in a town that has always embraced stars.
"It's a bigger idea, it's about the MLS coming here, it's about bringing the biggest European teams here like Manchester United," Beckham said. "To be able to come here and be part of this and being able to speak this morning is a huge honor to myself."
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell softened on the league's opposition to Las Vegas in recent weeks, saying it would be up to owners whether a team could be in a city that features legalized sports betting.
But the NFL plays games in London where there are many betting parlors taking wagers on the games, and Davis said he was confident he could win a vote among fellow owners for a move.
The announcement was not received well by Oakland City Councilmembers Larry Reid and Noel Gallo. Each said they were disappointed by Davis’s actions.
“I think it’s real disingenuous,” Reid said. “So now when he says, ‘I want to stay in Oakland’, I’m not going to take him for his word anymore.”
“Mr. Davis can stay in Las Vegas and we’ll be completely happy with him staying there, but we want the Raiders to stay in Oakland,” Gallo added.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf released the following statement:
“We remain firmly committed to working out terms that responsibly keep the Raiders in Oakland where we want them to be, and where they belong.
We appreciate that the Raiders have an internationally recognized brand with appeal in many markets. As such, we understand that while our talks with the team continue, they will also explore all of their options as part of this process. The Raiders have
explored options in the past and I am sure they will do so again in the future. It’s my job to remain focused on delivering a deal that works for the Raiders, the fans and the taxpayers. Oakland deserves nothing less.
Oakland is a strong market with many unique assets that make it a perfect home for the Raiders’ new stadium, including unparalleled stadium access thanks to proximity to public transit and the freeway, incredible real estate value that can support lucrative ancillary development, and a loyal and established base of die-hard fans.
We know this hasn’t been an easy road and we appreciate the patience and persistence of the team and its fans. We remain committed to a partnership that supports a team-centered effort to build a new stadium for the Raiders in Oakland that will be successful for the fans and the team, and responsible for the city and its taxpayers.
We remain confident that the Raiders can build a new stadium in Oakland without a direct public subsidy. We will continue working with the Raiders and the NFL to responsibly make that happen.”