Pump the brakes: the Raiders moving to Las Vegas is hardly a done deal

Kirby Lee/Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve seen this movie before.

It involves a Raiders logo, soaring music, palm trees, and a beautiful multi-billion-dollar stadium.

Wait — we’ve seen that stadium before, too.

Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee had a meeting Thursday morning, where they discussed how to get the Oakland Raiders to relocate to Las Vegas. The flirting between Las Vegas and the Raiders is nothing new, and, as we found out, neither is the stadium.

Remember the Carson, Calif. stadium plan — the one that was going to move the NFL’s runts, the Chargers and Raiders, into the L.A. market? If you remember the renderings of that stadium, then you know exactly what the proposed Las Vegas stadium looks like.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Raiders trying to re-hashing the failed Carson bid  — this time 285 miles east — it was the easiest possible option and the Raiders aren’t putting much effort into this relocation.

“Slap a roof on the Carson stadium renderings and let's go with that,” is something that could have legitimately been uttered in the planning stage.

The Raiders might end up in Las Vegas; but as of Thursday, they’re nowhere close to making that happen, and there’s little evidence they’ll get their act together in time for the NFL owners to vote on a relocation by December.

To understand the Raiders’ Las Vegas bid, you have to understand the team’s recently failed relocation bid and — if at all possible — the city of Las Vegas.

As you probably recall, the Raiders applied for relocation in January. They were roundly rejected by the NFL team owners and eventually pulled back their bid.

The Chargers and Raiders said they were going to build the $1.7 billion stadium in Carson without public funds — yes, the two teams that need the NFL to lend them $300 million to help them cover their end of publicly funded stadium proposals, said that they would each spend $850 million to build the stadium in Carson. It’s a shocker the NFL owners didn’t buy it…

When the bid came up for a vote, the Chargers abandoned it in exchange for an olive branch from the NFL. The league owners accepted Rams owner and billionaire Stan Kroenke’s bid to move to Los Angeles because he had the money to build a new, $2.66 billion stadium by LAX. In exchange for going through the motions with the Carson bid, which helped spur the Rams to LA move, the NFL gave the Chargers the right to join the Rams up the road should their stadium bid in San Diego fail.

The Chargers left the Carson bid so fast at the owner’s meetings, it has been speculated that it was their plan all along.

The Raiders? They were blindsided by the betrayal, but they did receive $300 million from the NFL. In total, the Raiders now have $500 million to spend on building a stadium and relocating. The NFL’s relocation fee is $550 million and any viable stadium proposal would cost more than $1 billion (and it’s probably closer to $2 billion.)

You can do the math. Even when they spread it out, the Raiders are quite short.

The Raiders don’t have the money to relocate, and, as evidenced by the backstabbing by their partner in the Carson bid, they don’t have an owner capable of masterminding a move either.

“[Davis] has no idea what he's doing,” Steven Tavares, who covers Oakland and Alameda County politics for his site, the East Bay Citizen, told me in June. “He's waiting for someone to hold his hand on this thing.”

Las Vegas, apparently still interested in an NFL team after landing an NHL franchise earlier this year, might be willing to pull Davis across the finish line, but the notion that the city and team are anywhere close to that finish line is wrong.

The proponents of the Las Vegas NFL stadium plan — the groups working for casino magnate Sheldon Adelson — are down to two sites where the Carson-with-a-roof stadium could be built. That’s progress, sure, but the Carson stadium had a site too. It takes funding to build a stadium, and Adelson’s group says it won’t accept anything less than $750 million in public funding.

Reportedly, if the city and the state don’t hand over three-quarters of a billion dollars, Adelson — net worth $28.5 billion — walks away from the project and Davis is left without someone to hold his hand.

This should come as no surprise, but reports say that the governor of Nevada sees the $750 million figure is too high.

Adelson’s group has proposed that Nevada would raise the money by increasing taxes on hotel rooms in the state by $1.40. Hotels within 25 miles would see an extra dollar of tax on top of that. The proposal says that within 30 years, that tax would amount to $750 million.

Adelson would then ante up $650 million and the Raiders $500 million to pay for the $1.9 billion stadium. After all of that, the Raiders would also be on the hook for the relocation fee.

The Raiders might not have to worry about that, though. While it’s unlikely that that kind of public funding would go up to a referendum, there’s hardly universal support for the issue. The poll conducted by Adelson’s company shows support — shocker, I know — but another poll shows 55 percent of Las Vegas-area residents oppose public funding.

Another poll, paid for by MGM, said that 51 percent of Nevada voters preferred that public funding is used to upgrade the Las Vegas Convention Center.

To recap: the money isn’t in place, and if the funds are ever raised, they might not be used on the stadium. And even if they are, the Raiders might not be able to pay their share.

But the Raiders have applied for the “Las Vegas Raiders” trademark — according to some reports, it means they’re serious about relocating. The Raiders are playing a billion-dollar game, but apparently, a $375 trademark shows they’re in it to win it.

Ignore the fact that the Raiders would be serious about St. Louis or Portland or Reno if those cities offered to build them a stadium, free of cost.

Or Oakland, for that matter.

And surely it is coincidence that the Oakland A’s, who share the Coliseum with the Raiders, toured a waterfront site for a new ballpark in Oakland Thursday with the city’s blessing — I mean, the Raiders wouldn’t try to turn up the heat on Oakland by leaking the “Las Vegas Raiders” trademark news on the same day.

The Raiders might end up in Las Vegas. Perhaps Nevada passes the tax hike and appropriates the funds for the NFL stadium. Adelson sure seems interested in bringing a team to Vegas (but enough to pay for it all himself.) But nothing is imminent — this could all fall apart with relative ease, just like the Carson bid.

For now, this is nothing more than a cheap trademark, a cheap photoshop, and some talk.

USA TODAY Sports
Mark Davis (Getty)
(USAT)