Mark Davis has never brought up images of Michael Corleone, but his latest move does kind of remind me of a scene from Godfather II. Davis recently ticked off everyone in Las Vegas, most notably Sheldon Adelson, by going before the Las Vegas Stadium Authority last week and making a lease agreement proposal that only a Corleone could love — $1 annual rent and complete control of stadium operations.
CORLEONE: “My offer is this: nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, which I would appreciate if you would put up personally.”
Casino mogul Adelson, who had pledged to put up $600 million of the $1.9 billion to build a new stadium, didn’t even hear about the Raiders’ audacious proposal to LVSA until Monday. He was so angered at being kept out of the loop — embarrassing him in front of the many agencies which he convinced to get on board with Davis and the Raiders — that he pulled out of the deal entirely.
So most of the headlines late Monday and this morning are declaring that the Raiders-to-Vegas prospects are unraveling, and that the team staying in Oakland, or even changing course and moving to San Diego, are on the horizon.
But let’s think about this. Could this actually be a smart move by Davis?
NFL owners meet in March to vote on the Raiders’ relocation to Vegas. By most accounts, Davis has the 20 votes out of 32 owners needed to get approval. But Roger Goodell is also an opponent — he’d rather see the team stay put. And to think that Goodell doesn’t have influence here is naive.
What’s likely the biggest drawback for Goodell, and some of the owners as well, is Adelson. It’s even possible that someone told Davis that he won’t get owner approval unless the casino guy is out of the picture. So Davis made a ridiculous lease proposal that he knew would anger Adelson — a predictably vindictive businessman, by all accounts — knowing that he would pull his $600 million and go home.
Davis obviously thinks that he can pick up the funding slack with Goldman-Sachs, or one of two or three other area billionaires who are said to be interested.
The whole thing is devious in a Machiavellian sort of way, if true, and it’s hard to imagine Davis being that cunning. But he’s Al Davis’ son, so anything is possible one supposes.
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) January 31, 2017
— Ronnie Lott (@RonnieLottHOF) January 31, 2017