It looks more and more like the Oakland Raiders are headed to Las Vegas. But some speed bumps remain before the silver-and-black can saunter down the strip. For one, Roger Goodell and the NFL are going to have to sign off the relocation. Goodell recently intimated he would like to see the team stay in Oakland, while the owners don't sound like they're in a hurry to vote on the move.
There's also one more huge road block: billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who recently told Reuters he's willing to walk away from the whole thing.
"I negotiated to bring in the Oakland Raiders, an NFL football team from Oakland, because they don't have a stadium there, that I would build a stadium and rent it out to the Oakland Raiders," Adelson said Wednesday from Tel Aviv.
"They want so much," Adelson added. "So I told my people, 'Tell them I could live with the deal, I could live without the deal. Here's the way it's gonna go down. If they don't want it, bye-bye.'"
Adelson is a casino magnate and one of the primary reasons the Raiders are heading to Vegas. There wasn't enough cash on hand for Mark Davis to simply up and plan the whole thing, so he helped partner with Adelson to raise the funds.
From colleague John Breech's story about the Raiders earlier this month:
For the rest of the funding, Davis will be teaming up with the NFL and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.
Of the $1.9 billion in stadium costs, the Raiders would chip in a total of $500 million. Of that total, $200 million would come from the NFL as part of a loan, and the rest would come from the Raiders.
Adelson's group will be on the hook for whatever costs aren't covered by the public money and the Raiders/NFL money.
Adelson is going to build the stadium and Davis is going to rent it from him. Adelson, for what it's worth, wants Vegas taxpayers to pay for the stadium.
What we could be dealing with here is an expensive, slow game of chicken. The Raiders are planning to move, but Davis isn't setting a time frame and he doesn't want a short one because he has to wait for the vote. But he also has to maximize the financial viability of the move in order to get the NFL owners to approve it.
Adelson obviously wants the best possible deal he can get, which is why he's not afraid to threaten the Raiders with the possibility of pulling the entire project.
As much as the Raiders seem like a done deal to Vegas, this is a stark reminder that nothing is certain when it comes to relocation.