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Odds favor Las Vegas stadium deal, relocation of Raiders

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March 7, 2017 02:02 AM
Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis appears to be back on track with his Las Vegas relocation plans. @USA Today Sports Images

By Matt Youmans

VSiN senior editor

After more than a month of mystery, the Las Vegas stadium financing plan that Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis has been banking on finally has been revealed.

During a Monday meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., Raiders officials informed the NFL stadium finance committee that Bank of America is set to replace billionaire Sheldon Adelson as the financing partner needed to complete the deal for a proposed $1.9 billion stadium near the Strip.

Adelson, the Las Vegas Sands Corp. chairman and CEO, angrily pulled out of negotiations with the Raiders in late January, a surprise move that seemingly put the project in jeopardy. Now, the team’s plans appear to be back on track.

Westgate sports book manager Jeff Sherman, who has closely monitored the situation since last summer, said he makes the Raiders minus-300 favorites to win league approval to relocate to Las Vegas.

“This was a huge step,” Sherman said. “This looks like by far the best long-term solution for the Raiders.”

According to media reports, Raiders president Marc Badain and Bank of America officials made presentations to the NFL on Monday. The bank is willing to fill the void left by Adelson, who originally committed $650 million toward the stadium. Davis has said the team will contribute $500 million, and the state legislature in October approved $750 million in public financing.

A Las Vegas source with knowledge of the stadium developments said Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, who sold the UFC for $4 billion last year, played a role to assist the Raiders in finding a suitable investment bank. The extent of the Fertitta family’s involvement beyond that is unclear.

Another source said Adelson wanted an ownership stake in the Raiders, and his demands likely led to the breakdown in negotiations with Davis and Badain.

The Raiders are targeting a relocation vote at the NFL Annual Meeting March 26 to 29 in Phoenix. The team needs 24 of 32 owners to vote in favor of relocation. It’s also possible the vote could be pushed back to May.

The next key date is Thursday, when the Raiders will present a lease agreement to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority.

The Los Angeles Times reported Bank of America would provide a construction loan for the stadium. NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman told The Times the bank’s relationship with the Raiders “suggests confidence in the project.”

For several months, Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots have been the most influential owners lobbying in support of the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas.

Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf also made a presentation to the NFL on Monday, but league officials have all but dismissed her proposal for a mixed-use stadium that seems to put a higher priority on Major League Baseball and the A’s franchise.

In January, before Adelson backed out of the stadium deal, Sherman made the Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas a minus-900 favorite. (It’s an entertainment prop, and no wagering is permitted on it in Nevada.) He dropped the line to pick’em after Adelson withdrew.

“I definitely think it’s favored now,” Sherman said. “It’s going to be hard for the owners to say no to $750 million in Las Vegas. That’s the biggest thing in play in this whole scenario.”

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