When the Chargers announced in January they were taking the NFL up on its offer to join the Rams in Los Angeles, the NFL foresaw a possible route to San Diego for the Raiders. The league did not want that, so it shifted focus from helping the Raiders procure a new stadium in Oakland to making sure the Las Vegas deal didn’t fall though, Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN.com report in an expansive story chronicling the Raiders’ move to Sin City.
As the Raiders’ Vegas deal was flailing after the departures of Sheldon Adelson and Goldman Sachs in during the winter, league executives joined Raiders president Marc Badain in contacting Bank of America, according to Van Natta and Wickersham. The company soon replaced Adelson as a backer, injecting new life into the Raiders’ Vegas venture, and pledged a near-$1 billion line of credit to cover cost overruns from the impending stadium construction project.
Jerry Jones also played a role in this key chapter of the Raiders’ relocation process. Mark Davis said to Jones at one point last year, “you screwed me on L.A.” and Jones began to act feverishly to help the Raiders relocate. The Cowboys owner put his full support behind the project, something the league and the Raiders appreciated, according to the ESPN reporters, and attempted to procure financing for the endeavor. But some around the league are concerned with the fallout.
Jones’ push helped bring some owners off the fence, paving the way for the 31-1 relocation vote. But it irked another influential owner. Robert Kraft took exception to Jones’ stake in Legends Hospitality, a merchandise and concessions company that could stand to benefit from the $1.9 billion stadium deal.
Sources told Wickersham and Van Natta that Legends emerged as a contender to partner with the Raiders for nonfootball revenue. Kraft spoke to Adelson, a longtime friend who played a key role in helping secure the Raiders the record $750MM in public money before stepping aside due partially to a falling out with Davis, and told him “Jerry is running wild; I can’t believe this.” Adelson, according to the ESPN reporters, then said he would “kill” the Raiders’ deal in Vegas if Kraft wanted. But Kraft, who had been a backer of the Raiders’ effort, did not want to exercise that prospective option.
Kraft wasn’t the only high-powered NFL figure who was suspicious of Jones’ help here. The Dallas owner helping sway his peers while potentially factoring into the stadium’s finances would cause “a major conflict of interest,” a longtime aide to an NFL owner told ESPN, who added the question of “won’t Mark Davis always be beholden to Jerry Jones?” Bank of America has served as the Cowboys’ bank for 25 years, along with a team sponsor. It’s also the Raiders’ longtime bank.
Davis and NFL executive VP Eric Grubman were working toward different goals, with Davis concentrating solely with Vegas and Grubman working to keep the Raiders in Oakland. Grubman, who also attempted to work with St. Louis last year while Stan Kroenke set his sights on Los Angeles, concluded in December — according to ESPN — Oakland did not have a viable proposal. At that same December league meeting, Badain called Oakland’s proposal a “political, cover-your-ass joke” and said in October, per ESPN, “it would have been better if (Oakland) had offered nothing.”
“The stadium proposals received from Oakland are dependent on various contingencies and involve a number of significant uncertainties that membership concluded cannot be solved in a reasonable time,” the league’s statement on the Raiders’ relocation reads (via Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com, on Twitter), also citing the lack of Oakland progress in a two-year period after the league denied relocation applications in 2015 and placed the Raiders behind the Rams and Chargers in the Los Angeles pecking order a year later. “The proposal to relocate to Las Vegas involves a clearly defined and well-financed proposal for a first-class stadium.”
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