OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – The Oakland Raiders' proposed move to Las Vegas could be in jeopardy after casino king Sheldon Adelson said this week that he has pulled out of a deal to build the National Football League team a $1.9 billion stadium there.
A day after Adelson and his family, who own the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, announced the withdrawal of their $650 million commitment to the project, rumors began to swirl that investment bank Goldman Sachs is reconsidering its own pledge to finance the project, which was reportedly contingent on Adelson.
Adelson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which he also owns, that he was displeased with a proposed lease agreement the Raiders submitted to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority last Thursday that failed to mention the Adelsons as a development partner. That omission appears to have prompted the Adelsons’ withdrawal.
"It was certainly shocking to the Adelson family," Adelson said in the statement. "We were not only excluded from the proposed agreement, we weren't even aware of its existence."
He added, "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."
But Raiders owner Mark Davis remains committed to relocating to Nevada, where Gov. Brian Sandoval has promised him $750 million in hotel-tax revenue for a domed, 65,000-seat stadium.
The team is slated to contribute $500 million to the stadium project.
"The Raiders deeply appreciate the efforts of the Adelson family to bring the Raiders to Las Vegas," the team said in a statement issued shortly after Adelson announced his withdrawal. "We know this project could not have advanced to this point without them. The Raiders remain steadfast in honoring Mark Davis' commitment to Gov. Sandoval and the state of Nevada to pursue relocation to Las Vegas."
In a last-ditch effort to keep the Raiders in Oakland, the Oakland City Council and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors approved twin resolutions in December authorizing negotiations with Hall-of-Famer Ronnie Lott and his investment group to build the Raiders a new $1.3 billion, 55,000-seat stadium in Oakland that would replace the Coliseum, where the team now plays.
The Coliseum is outdated and is considered one of the worst stadiums in the NFL. Its antiquated conditions prompted the team's 1982 move to Los Angeles after then-owner Al Davis tried unsuccessfully to have renovations made.
Under its negotiating agreement with the Lott Group and Fortress Investment, Oakland has offered to pay for $200 million in infrastructure improvements for the stadium, which would come from private bonds secured by city taxes generated by the stadium and a mixed-use development on the site.
But Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff has repeatedly said that the city will not pay for stadium construction, and the negotiating agreement with the Lott Group states that none of the money the city puts up for infrastructure improvements will come from its general fund.
Despite the Lott proposal, the Raiders formally filed for relocation to Las Vegas last month, and NFL owners are expected to vote on the move at their meeting in late March. The team can't relocate unless 24 of the league's 32 owners approve it.
Schaff said in a statement issued following the Raiders' relocation filing that Oakland remains the best city for the team to play in.
"Oakland has something no other city ever will – a die-hard fan base that is loyal and true to the Raiders and wants to see them stay here in Oakland where they were founded," she said. "Only Oakland brings the Raiders and the NFL a competitive stadium proposal, along with legacy and loyalty.”
A spokeswoman for Schaff did not immediately return a request seeking comment on Adelson's withdrawal.
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