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Cowboys owner Jones urges aggressiveness in bringing Raiders to Las Vegas

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says state leadership needs to stay aggressive in order to put the last pieces in place to bring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas.

Jones, who also is president and general manager of the Cowboys, said an opportunity has aligned “in the cross hairs” for Las Vegas to become an NFL city and if leaders allow that to slip away they may never see it come again.

Jones made his remarks in a telephone interview with the Review-Journal on Saturday.

Gov. Brian Sandoval announced last week that he intends to call a special session of the Legislature to consider a financing package for a stadium capable of hosting the NFL. A development group composed of the Sheldon Adelson family, Majestic Realty and the Raiders have developed a $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat stadium plan that will be considered by lawmakers when they meet in October. No firm dates have been set for a special session.

The financing package includes a public-private partnership that includes $750 million over an estimated 32 years from an increase in Clark County’s 12 percent motel and hotel room tax.

A stadium also would serve as a new home to the UNLV football team as well as provide a venue for concerts and special events too big for existing Las Vegas arenas.

When they convene in the special session, legislators also will consider a similar increase in room taxes for a $1.4 billion expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center as well as an increase in sales tax to provide additional revenue for more police officers for the resort corridor.

At the same time Nevada is courting the Raiders, the East Bay Times reported Saturday that a group of investors proposing to purchase the Oakland Coliseum from the city and county has withdrawn its $167 million offer to buy it.


Jones, who indicated he has no plans to lobby on behalf of the Las Vegas stadium development group, praised the leaders who have gotten the stadium request to where it is and said they would need to stay aggressive in their bid to court the Raiders, who have promised to relocate to Las Vegas if the stadium is built.

“It’s very important for the (development) team to be very aggressive,” Jones said. “It’s not hard to look at precedent and the history of the NFL and you don’t see any real movement if you are waiting on the league to initiate an effort to relocate a team.

“The league would be reluctant to really push to leave a market and all of the inertia is done by virtue of the team creating the opportunity or creating a better place for the NFL,” he said.

“In order for that to happen, you have to have several things coming together at the same time for a relocation. You have that right now in Las Vegas. You have to have very creditable people involved. In this particular case, you have outstanding people in Nevada and in Las Vegas representing what in my view is one of the crown jewels of our country, and that’s Las Vegas. On the other side, you have a team with portability, the ability to move. Those two coming together — three if you include the attractiveness of Las Vegas and Nevada — those three coming together is what I refer to as getting it in the cross hairs.”

But Jones said the state could miss an opportunity if it waited until next year — hence, the importance of a special session instead of waiting until the Legislature convenes in February.

“When you look at the history of the NFL, very few times do those situations get in the cross hairs of a decision and when you miss it, it’s usually gone for not only years and years — maybe even as much as 20 years as in the case of Los Angeles — but it could be gone forever,” Jones said.


He indicated the opportunity could shift to Los Angeles if a stadium decision is delayed.

Stan Kroenke, owner of the Los Angeles Rams, could consider a second tenant when his City of Champions Stadium in Inglewood, California, is completed. The San Diego Chargers have the first option to move in, but if a stadium initiative in San Diego is successful in the November election, the Chargers would stay there and open the door to the Raiders moving to Los Angeles.

If the Legislature approves a stadium package — and it must do so with two-thirds majority votes in both the Senate and the Assembly — the plan would be sent to the NFL owners in January. Three-fourths of the 32 owners would have to sign off on the Raiders’ relocation.

Jones had no predictions about that outcome, but said the owners are well-versed in relocation procedures having approved the Rams move earlier this year.

“We’ve just gone through the process, we’ve just gone through the exercise.

That’s actually another part getting it in the cross hairs,” Jones said. “Everybody’s seen it recently and everybody’s paying attention. That’s another real positive for presenting it now.”

Jones also thinks the Las Vegas “wow factor” could play a role in the owners’ vote.

“I wouldn’t dare predict or dare to state for anybody’s vote,” Jones said. “I just wouldn’t do that because I don’t know that. I will say that this makeup of ownership is progressive and is wanting to enhance the appeal of the NFL and it does clearly consider the wow factor a value and I would say that I would look to decisions that have just been made and say that many of those things are common to an application from a team regarding Las Vegas.”

Jones said he was a close personal friend of former Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, who died in 2011 and turned the team over to his son, Mark.

Like the Davises, Jones, who has seen the renderings of a Raiders stadium on the Strip, sees value in Las Vegas as an NFL destination.

“I’ve said that Las Vegas is a major treasure to our country and I’m into that kind of stuff because I think one and one is three,” Jones said. “Las Vegas has a wow factor and certainly the Raiders have an aura and a mystique and a national presence.”

Jones believes the NFL’s presence in Las Vegas would be mutually beneficial to the league as well as the city.

“The very thing that is positive about the future of Las Vegas and Nevada is enhanced dramatically by bringing and including an NFL team in that future,” Jones said. “There’s no doubt in my mind. The No. 1 thing (for Las Vegas) is the visibility that is afforded an NFL city.”

Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, who cast one of the 11 affirmative votes of the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee recommending the project to the governor, said he agreed with Jones’ call for an aggressive stance and he said Mark Davis would continue to do so on behalf of the Raiders.

“I think the fact that we (the committee) came out with a unanimous vote says a lot,” Sisolak said. “All we’re waiting for now is for the governor to issue the proclamation to call the special session. But I agree, now is not the time to sit back and wait for the league to do something.”

Efforts to reach Sisolak’s colleague on the Clark County Commission, Chris Giunchigliani, who opposes spending public funds for a stadium, were unsuccessful Sunday evening.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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