Like most twenty something males, I love watching football. Ever since I graduated college, fantasy football has been a way for me to stay in touch with friends while making random NFL games more interesting. If watching the movie Concussion wasn’t enough to make me question my viewership of the NFL, what’s happening right now with the Oakland Raiders might be the last straw. The owner Mark Davis has partnered with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to request the largest welfare check in history from Las Vegas taxpayers. In the words of their hired suit who negotiates for them with the city, “Not to be difficult, but we’re not negotiable. If we can’t get 750, we respectfully thank you but we’re going to move on.”
How to Negotiate with Asshole Billionaires
The head of the public agency negotiating with these guys has said that there will be no public contribution without public ownership of the new stadium. However, how much is a stadium worth? The short answer is, almost nothing. Operating costs for an NFL stadium are massive. As St. Louis is learning with the abandoned Rams stadium now, conventions and concerts don’t bring in nearly enough revenue to justify owning one. Without an NFL filling it, an NFL stadium is a gigantic eyesore and millstone around a city’s neck.
Adelson is an old man. Mark Davis wants badly to see his team’s value soar once the Raiders are the exclusive home team at the center of world gambling. They need Las Vegas more than Las Vegas needs them. Therefore, the city should collude with Oakland to force these two billionaires’ hands. When dealing with ruthless billionaires, one has to realize that they will say anything an do anything to win. They are smart enough to amass vast fortunes, and they didn’t get that way by being fair. You have to think about what their best available alternatives are.
The Raiders Want to Scam Las Vegas Taxpayers, Here’s How I’d Handle Negotiations with Them
I would counter their rude $750 million take it or leave it offer with one of my own. I would offer them $0, but I would allow the use of the police and fire departments to assist with game-day security. They should be grateful to play in one of the most visited cities in the United States.
On the other end, I would call Oakland and make plans for squeezing these two bastards for every dime for the taxpayers benefit. Oakland doesn’t want to lose the team if it can help it, but now that the owners have trademarked “Las Vegas Raiders” and are looking seriously at leaving, there’s no going back. These guys want the team out of Oakland at all costs. That means even if Las Vegas offered nothing and Oakland chipped in $500 million, which they won’t do, they might still decide to move the team to Vegas.
How can I say this with any certainty? Look at the situation around the NFL. The only other teams that are in play to move right now are the Jaguars, Chargers, and Raiders. Jacksonville is a target for London relocation, so there’s no chance they consider moving west. The Chargers are locked in to either playing in LA or a new stadium in San Diego. So they don’t have a credible threat. If I lived in San Diego, I’d make damn sure I voted against the ballet initiative brought by the Chargers organization to give them lots of free money for a new stadium along with higher taxes.
So if the Raiders claim it’s 750 or “we’re not interested,” then excuse the language but frankly they’re full of sh#t. What are there other options? Keep playing at the dump they’re currently at in Oakland? Pay the 49ers a huge sum to be second fiddle in their new stadium? Spend $1 billion of only Mark Davis’s money along with the pittance they might get from Oakland? After all, if the stadium doesn’t go in Las Vegas, then Adelson is out and so is his contribution.
Mark Davis Has Limited Leverage Because He’s Not As Rich as You Think
According to Business Insider, Mark Davis is only worth $500 million. In fact, it might be insulting to the fortunes of other NFL owners to call him a billionaire. He’s dependent on public assistance to do frankly anything. The only thing he could do if he was cut off from the trough is to sell to a guy like Adelson who would move the team.
That means Davis has limited leverage. Unlike Kroenke with the Rams in St. Louis, Davis is not married to Walmart money. Davis has no capacity to self-finance a massive brand spanking new stadium. The vast majority of his net worth is tied up in the Raiders, so he is desperate in seeking a better venue to sell the team at a higher price. Oakland and Las Vegas could both choose to be ho-hum about the team, and Davis would have much fewer options.
The NFL Causes Brain Damage, Tolerates Domestic Violence, Expects Payment for Patriotism, and Robs Cities of Public Funds. It’s Time to Stand Up to These Bullies
The only way billionaires will keep getting whatever they want when building new NFL stadiums is if public officials and voters are too cowardly to tell them no forcefully to their face. There’s maybe a 10% chance that the NFL will be the least popular major league sport in America in 20 years as fallout from concussion research causes big name players like Calvin Johnson to retire several seasons early. At some point, even enthusiastic fans like myself might begin to feel guilty about watching men destroy their brains on national television.
With that risk, I’d be extremely cautious about investing public funds into something like the NFL. If I was looking to buy a team, the only reason I’d do so is for the personal fame and notoriety that comes with owning an NFL franchise. The valuations on these teams are ridiculous and eventually must decline.
I’m writing this article in St. Louis now. Missouri taxpayers are paying something like $20 million a year on the old abandoned Rams stadium for another half decade because city leaders acted like scared kittens when they negotiated their last NFL stadium deal. St. Louisans showed a lot of goodwill to Kroenke and the Rams with a last ditch effort to build a new stadium along with huge amounts of public dollars going to the project. Even so, he gave the city the middle finger as he yanked the team out of St. Louis. Kroenke basically called the city a barren economic wasteland. Maybe it would be a little better off if it didn’t have to continue paying off bonds for a stadium that he got out of without having to pay any huge penalty at all.
So enough is enough. For the sake of what’s right and morality, the city of Las Vegas must take a stand. Adelson is worth almost $30 billion. If he really wants to build a stadium, inflate his ego, poor mouth, promise him gambling opportunities, or whatever else he wants. Just don’t offer a dime to a scumbag who claims he needs $750 million of Las Vegas taxpayer dollars in order to make a project work when he could build 15 $2 billion stadiums all by himself. The Raiders want to scam Las Vegas taxpayers. For their sakes and those of every municipality around the country where rich guys want public money for stadiums, I hope city leaders there grow a pair and stand up to these jerks Mark Davis an Sheldon Adelson.