The Raiders leaving Oakland for Las Vegas has become much more likely over the last week.
Last week, both houses of the Nevada State Legislature voted to approve a tourism tax increase which would put $750 million in public money towards a proposed $1.8 billion stadium in Las Vegas.
Earlier today, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed the bill into law.
There are few things NFL Ownership likes more than getting a significant public subsidy, and there’s simply no understating the value of an approved $750 million subsidy backed by taxes generated from hotels along The Strip.
What Happens Next?
The question for the Raiders now is whether they have 24 votes from NFL Owners to approve their relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas.
Here’s what Raiders’ Owner Mark Davis had to say, regarding whether he could be swayed to pursue an alternative in Oakland (or anywhere else):
I’ve already made a commitment to the Governor of Nevada, the State of Nevada, and the City of Las Vegas.
- Raiders Owner Mark Davis
There’s also the matter of a relocation fee, although it shouldn’t be anywhere near the reported $550 million needed for Los Angeles.
Jason Cole of Bleacher Report reported concerns regarding the nature of the private financing in the deal - specifically the revenue sharing between the Raiders and partner Sheldon Adelson. Cole and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports also reported some NFL owners might try to take advantage of the deal to force Raiders’ Owner Mark Davis out of his controlling interest in the team.
Vincent Bonsignore of the LA Daily News has reported he believes the Raiders will get the required 24 votes for relocation. I imagine there are at least 5 Yes votes already in place from the 49ers, the Rams, and the Chargers, as well as the Cowboys and Texans - who don’t want to see the Raiders pursue San Antonio as a future option.
Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Ed Graney (formerly of the San Diego Union-Tribune) had these things to say in an interview with Mighty 1090’s Kevin Acee today:
He (Davis) got the largest public funding in the history of stadiums... Every casino will have a suite there, every player will have tickets.
-Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal
So How Does This Affect the Chargers?
Any realistic chance of the Chargers staying in San Diego beyond 2016 rested on the Raiders closing this deal with Las Vegas.
If you recall, when the Stan Kroenke and the Rams won the great NFL relocation derby, both the Chargers and Raiders were granted options to potentially become the 2nd team in Los Angeles. The Chargers were given the 1st option, which would need to be exercised by the end of January 2017. If the Chargers chose not to exercise the option (for whatever reason), the option would then revert to the Raiders until January 2018.
The Chargers option could be extended by one year, in the event of any legal challenges to an approved stadium deal in San Diego.
Now, time for some WILD! AUTHOR! SPECULATION!
Assuming the Raiders deal in Las Vegas is approved by NFL Ownership next winter, the Chargers get at least one break, in that they are no longer in a position where they have to use their option or lose it.
Theoretically, if either Measure C or Measure D get at least 50% at the ballot box in November, the option could be extended pending the outcome of the California State Supreme Court’s ruling in CCC vs. Upland - the ruling which would determine if a tax increase proposed by Citizen’s Initiative is subject to the 2/3rds affirmative vote requirements outlined by state law.
Either way, it shifts the strategy to working out a deal which could be put before the public in November 2018, the next available General Election. The Chargers would still have a favorable lease at Qualcomm Stadium, their lease exit fee would be reduced even lower, and they would avoid being the 3rd team at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Simply put, (and assuming the Chargers haven’t run a scam campaign to simply show San Diego they tried before moving to Los Angeles) there now exists the possibility and (more crucially) time, for the Chargers and San Diego to try and work out a new stadium deal which most everyone feels comfortable with.
I imagine the Chargers’ option to join the Rams in Inglewood would have to be modified by NFL Ownership, especially as it pertains to certain revenue streams the Rams would like to start accessing (such as naming rights for the Inglewood stadium), but given the Chargers’ documented reluctance to join the Rams in Los Angeles, and the Rams perceived reluctance to share Los Angeles with anyone, it seems a deal could be reached relatively easily.
The Raiders closing the financing deal with Nevada is a crucial milestone for their attempts to relocate to Las Vegas, as it means the NFL would have to walk away from a public subsidy of $750 million to prevent a move.
For our purposes in San Diego, and assuming the Raiders’ relocation is approved, it gives the Chargers another opportunity to try and work things out in San Diego if Measure C and Measure D fail to get the necessary votes to pass in November.
Like always, just when you think you know how this plays out...