For two hours, they talked details of a lease, things like insurance and audits and suites and field markings and signage and UNLV and that ever-important pouring rights war between Coke and Pepsi.
(Full disclosure: I prefer Something for Everyone.)
But in this ever-advancing storyline of the Raiders relocating to Las Vegas and housing an NFL team in a 65,000-seat domed stadium, the most significant form of progress occurred earlier this week in Florida.
NFL owners are all about the money.
Show them enough of it, and you can mark the field any way you desire.
Once the Raiders told the league’s financing committee that Bank of America would back the $1.9 billion project, a meeting of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority Board on Thursday became far more about advancing the narrative than any session weighed down by the presence of doubt.
Once the NFL was confident the needed $650 million was secure, connecting the dots toward Derek Carr eventually throwing passes for a Las Vegas team became easier to envision.
Owners are set to meet in Arizona the last week of March, where more and more it appears a vote on relocation could take place. The stadium lease won’t be finished when those from 32 teams convene, and it doesn’t need to be for a minimum of 24 to favor the Raiders moving here.
Just as long as the money is solid.
“I certainly don’t want to speak for the NFL, but there has been some indication and in the Raiders’ own statement, they feel like they’re moving toward a vote at the end of March, so I believe them,” said Steve Hill, chairman of the Stadium Authority Board. “The Raiders seem to have a lot of momentum at this point. We think that’s great and are hopeful they receive the vote. Las Vegas and the state has made a great offer. The Raiders obviously have a strong commitment to be here. That all seems to be lining up pretty well.
“We’re going to get this lease done. It’s going to work.”
It’s not as if all stadium leases are the same, but there are enough common points that if you’re talking in percentages right now, the one in Las Vegas is probably 75 percent done and the other 25 is where deeper discussions and compromise is warranted.
Reports have suggested the Raiders would make a fortune off naming rights, which in turn could drive the price charged them as a relocation fee up by several hundred million dollars. There are obvious debt issues, and yet not to the level many believe will slow the expected outcome.
What the board won’t control are aspects such as management to concessions to hospitality to various other areas of the stadium, ones that eventually could be handled by a company called Legends Project Development.
A part-owner of that is Jerry Jones, who also owns the Dallas Cowboys and has been a leading voice of support in the Raiders’ relocation bid. The team will decide who manages the stadium, which means you have to love Jones’ chances of landing the contract.
One owner’s hand helping another, and vice versa.
It’s sort of where things stand, nothing completely decided and yet everything seemingly moving in a manner that makes you believe what most once thought a ridiculous notion — the NFL in Las Vegas — is now a couple of days worth of meetings from becoming reality.
There is a reason the Raiders weren’t represented Thursday — you know, beyond all those labor union workers wearing the silver hard hats and barbecuing in the parking lot.
Team officials weren’t needed.
The lease process is in the hands of attorneys for the Raiders and Stadium Authority Board, leaving team owner Mark Davis and those closest to him to instead focus on ensuring they arrive in Arizona with the needed votes — and perhaps several to spare.
“The Raiders aren’t here, but a lawyer is,” said Mark Arnold, counsel for the Stadium Authority Board. “I’m not sure anyone is excited about that.
“Look, in any negotiation of any document, X percent is boilerplated and Y percent is what people care about. I’m a lawyer, so I care about it all. All of it is important. In time, (the lease) will get done. There are no major stumbling blocks out there.
“I’ve talked to the outside counsel for the Raiders, and he and I have a great relationship. He’s the type of lawyer who wants to get things done, and I want to get a deal done. I’m not here for roadblocks. I’m here for, ‘Here are the options. Here are the alternatives to those options. Where do we want to go? Here are the risks. Here are the rewards. Let’s get a deal done.’”
Once the financing from Bank of America was secured, the latter became more forgone conclusion than not.