The family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson has withdrawn as investors in a proposed $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed football stadium intended to bring the NFL’s Oakland Raiders to Southern Nevada.
In a statement issued late Monday, Adelson said his family “will no longer be involved in any facet of the stadium discussion.”
Adelson said he was surprised by the Raiders’ submission of a proposed lease agreement to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority on Thursday, noting that it has “sent shock waves through our community.”
“It was certainly shocking to the Adelson family,” the statement said. “We were not only excluded from the proposed agreement; we weren’t even aware of its existence.”
“It’s clear the Raiders have decided their path for moving to Las Vegas does not include the Adelson family,” Adelson’s statement said. “So, regrettably, we will no longer be involved in any facet of the stadium discussion.”
Adelson said that “while this is not the result my family was hoping for, I am very appreciative of the countless people who have given considerable time and energy to this process, especially so many of our elected officials who have made this a top priority for Southern Nevada.”
A source close to Adelson said that when Raiders President Marc Badain and Executive Vice President Dan Ventrelle were making a presentation to the authority board, Raiders owner Mark Davis was in Adelson’s office negotiating with the family.
Calls to Davis and Badain were not immediately returned Monday, but the team issued a statement Monday evening.
“The Raiders deeply appreciate the efforts of the Adelson family to bring the Raiders to Las Vegas,” the team’s statement said. “We know this project could not have advanced to this point without them. The Raiders remain steadfast in honoring Mark Davis’ commitment to Gov. (Brian) Sandoval and the state of Nevada to pursue relocation to Las Vegas.”
SKEPTICISM ABOUT GOLDMAN SACHS
Earlier this month, Raiders representatives told the Stadium Authority board that construction would be financed by Goldman Sachs — with or without the Adelsons as partners.
But Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak was skeptical that Goldman Sachs can fill the financial void left by the Adelsons’ exit. The Adelsons had pledged $650 million toward the stadium’s construction. The Raiders would commit $500 million, and $750 million in bonds would be funded by a 0.88-percentage-point increase in Clark County’s hotel room tax.
“The Raiders are putting a lot of hopes in the Goldman Sachs commitments, but I don’t know the extent of their commitments, and I certainly do not share that same level of hope,” Sisolak said Monday. “If (the Raiders) have a Plan B, I’m not aware of it, and the owners meeting is coming up in two months.”
The Raiders have applied to the NFL to relocate the team to Las Vegas. NFL owners are expected to vote on the request in late March.
Steve Hill, chairman of the Stadium Authority, said he was notified Monday afternoon of the withdrawal, and he thanked the Adelsons for launching the bid to bring the NFL to Las Vegas as well as develop a new home for the UNLV football team.
“The authority will continue to work with the Raiders organization to fulfill the authority’s responsibilities as set forth in the Southern Nevada Tourism Improvements Act,” Hill said in a statement. “In doing so, the authority will continue to ensure the stadium project is developed in a manner consistent with the clear direction of Nevada lawmakers.”
Under that legislation, the Stadium Authority would still have until mid-2018 to attract an NFL team to the planned stadium. A Goldman Sachs-financed project would be treated the same way as an Adelson-backed project, with no additional public money allotted to the project.
If an NFL team is not secured by mid-2018, the Stadium Authority would be dissolved and UNLV officials would be required to deliver notice to the governor of their intent to build a smaller collegiate stadium for the Rebel football team. UNLV officials would have two years to raise $200 million toward the project, and tax revenue generated by the increased hotel tax would be dedicated to that stadium effort instead.
Sections of the proposed lease, which calls for the Raiders to pay $1 per year in annual rent, restrict scheduling and field markings for UNLV football games. From the proposal’s inception a year ago, the stadium has been billed as a home for NFL games and the Rebel football team. In addition, it would stage major concerts, high-level soccer matches and other events too large for existing Las Vegas arenas.
“In addition to being discouraged by the surprise submission, I was deeply disappointed for the disregard the Raiders showed our community partners, particularly UNLV, through the proposed agreement,” Adelson’s statement said.
Sisolak, a supporter of the bid to bring the Raiders to Las Vegas and build the stadium, said he was stunned by the turn of events.
“Very disappointed, very disappointed,” Sisolak said in a telephone interview.
Sandoval issued a statement thanking the Adelsons and saying the process will continue under the Stadium Authority’s review.
“The terms of the legislation do not change, and the state’s contribution will not increase as a result of this announcement,” Sandoval said in his statement. “I am hopeful that the Raiders are working to secure the additional funds that would have been provided by the Adelson family. At a minimum, we have set up a framework and funding source for building a stadium for UNLV. The process in place outlines that the Stadium Authority board will continue to evaluate stadium site locations (and) development plans and vet all operating agreements.”
The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.
Contact Richard N. Velotta at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter