The Las Vegas Raiders seem to already have their bags packed for Sin City, but before they board for their one-way ticket from their present home in Oakland, Bay Area investors are pressuring local lawmakers into trying to make amends with owner Mark Davis.
This week the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Ronnie Lott and Rodney Peete, two former players who at one time played for the Raiders in either Los Angeles or Oakland, met with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff (D) to discuss ways to keep the Raiders in Northern California.
Lott and Peete are among a group of predominantly African-American investors seeking to develop a new stadium on 120-acres in Oakland and persuade Davis into foregoing relocation.
The former NFL stars are working alongside Integral, a real estate developer based in Atlanta whose CEO is Egbert Perry, the former chairman of Fannie Mae. Integral is one of the largest minority-owned businesses in America according the Chronicle.
Schaff’s willingness to meet with Lott and Peete is a surprise considering the mayor has stated that she would “not meet with any developer . . . unless they are brought to me by the Raiders.”
If You Build It, They Will Stay
It’s unclear where Davis, who inherited the franchise from his iconic father Al Davis, truly wants to call home. Reports in Oakland claim his heart is still in California, while those in Nevada say the move to Vegas is his preferred wager.
The Raiders’ current stadium, the Oakland Coliseum, is in need of repairs the city doesn’t want to fund.
Las Vegas Sands billionaire Sheldon Adelson is willing to help construct a $1.4 billion domed stadium near the airport. Sands and Majestic Realty would put up $150 million, and Davis has told local officials he would pay $500 million if the city can endow the rest.
It’s rather ironic, or perhaps disheartening to some, that Mark Davis might go against the interest of a minority-owned investor business. His father Al was a leader in civil rights and the first NFL owner to hire an African-American head coach in the game’s modern era.
The Gambling in the Room
The main concern with Davis moving the Raiders to Las Vegas is of course the city’s widespread sports betting. The NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell have opined that hosting games in the gambling epicenter of the United States could threaten the sport’s integrity.
24 of the league’s 32 owners would need to approve the transfer.
This week Davis received the backing of one of the most powerful franchises in football. New England Patriots billionaire Robert Kraft told USA TODAY Sports that he thinks a team in Vegas “would be good for the NFL.”
“I’m looking where we are today and thinking of the last 10 to 15 years, and the emergence of new media. . . We’re just living in a different world, technology wise. The risks in Vegas are no longer exclusive to Vegas,” Kraft told reporter Jarrett Bell.
Technically speaking, the risks are exclusive to Vegas, or at least Nevada, the only state that offers legalized betting on professional athletics. That said, Kraft is also correct in that the emergence of mobile offshore betting platforms has only made sports betting easier in areas where it’s still banned by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.
Mark Davis, it’s your call.