Raiders fans across the country have been sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the next scrap of intel about where the storied franchise will land. The recent news that San Diego has put a new stadium deal on the November ballot has people buzzing.
As Jeffrey Siniard writes in Bolts From The Blue, "the Initiative asks voters to raise the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) from its current rate of 10.5% to 16.5% to generate revenue . . . "
He also notes that San Diego city attorney Jan Goldsmith would write the court to clarify whether an affirmative vote needs to be two-thirds or a simply majority for the measure to carry. Given the fact that revenue onus falls on renters — hotel rooms, B&Bs and other short-terms stays — the referendum won't be a bitter pill for voters to swallow. Basically, San Diego residents would have visitors pay for a shiny new stadium. Unless 'America's Finest City' has the movie Concussion on repeat, the smart money is on Dean Spanos and the Chargers winning on Election Day.
The Chargers have options, but what they end up doing may not have significant impact on Mark Davis's decision.
Let's assume the Chargers earn voter support. The NFL owners have basically pre-approved a Silver & Black relocation to Los Angeles. That was the deal when Oakland "came in third" as Davis put it when he got bounced from the two-team LA proposals.
But with Las Vegas on the table, does Tinsel Town still appeal to Davis and the Raiders? Or more aptly put, does Davis want to get into bed with Rams owner Stan Kroenke?
Davis initially dealt with Chargers owner Spanos to build a joint stadium in Carson, with one of the teams possibly exiting the AFC. Basically, the Raiders/Chargers arrangement was similar to that of the Jets/Giants in the Meadowlands.
It was easy to see the Raiders held the high ground on the Bolts. The Silver & Black already enjoys an established and stronger fan base in LA and are more popular than the Bolts in Southern California, and nationally. However, joining the Rams mega billionaire sports franchise owner Kroenke reduces Davis and the Raiders to second fiddle. Nothing against Kroenke, but some of these pro sports owners have egos that barely fit into their stadiums.
The Rams owner comes to the table with the bulk of the $1.8 billion Inglewood Stadium in hand and plans to pay his approximately $550 million relocation fee in one lump sum. Kroenke, a Missouri native, has a net worth of more than $7.8 billion and ranks as the No. 55 richest person in the U.S., according to Forbes. And while the Rams may be his crown jewel, Kroenke's sports empire includes the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche and MLS' Colorado Rapids, among others. His 2016 purchase of the Waggoner Ranch in Texas spans nearly 800 square miles and the value of that single property ($725 million) equals half the total estimated value of the No. 31 ranked Raiders franchise ($1.43 billion). In terms of NFL power politics, Kroenke would maintain a significant upper hand over Davis in business dealings going forward.
It makes little sense to throw in with Kroenke on unequal terms. Davis has already rejected a similar situation with Jed York across the bay on a Levi's Stadium co-occupancy deal. As David Fucillo at Niners Nation reported on Davis's comments, "the Raiders would feel like the No. 2 team in the stadium."
"So if we're going to move the team," (Davis) said, "let's get something that's going to be for the Raiders."
Raiders owner Mark Davis has changed the power structure significantly after the LA debacle. Rather than wait to eat leftovers, he put San Antonio, San Diego, LA and Vegas on the menu as potential sites, with some being more viable than others.
Currently, the Jerry Jones-led faction that thwarted Davis on the LA deal sees Sin City as a viable option. Although recent stadium money wrangling in Vegas have thrown a curve ball over who foots how much of the bill, the Nevada city would provide the Raiders with their very own pro football market and vast unexplored revenue streams. The move would be all-Raiders, all the time.
Unlike the tone from some other municipalities, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman is determined to bring pro sports to her city, declaring Vegas will have three pro sports teams within 10 years. The NHL already plans to open its 31st franchise there for the 2017-2018 season.
As our own Levi Damien points out, "this move by the NHL could be just what Mark Davis would need to gain approval from the league owners as they would have one less argument they could use against it."
The Raiders relocation game appears fluid, but at this juncture, all signs point to Sin City.