Sheldon Adelson Withdraws From Oakland Raiders Las Vegas Deal, Exposing Mark Davis’ Trust Issue
Sheldon Adelson withdrew from the Oakland Raiders relocation effort to Las Vegas, for all practical purposes, killing the NFL move. The $30 billion casino mogul, controversial business practices and all, was team owner Mark Davis’ best bet for pulling off what has always been a long-shot project for a host of basic reasons.
But one reason the deal failed was one that wasn’t obvious to the lay observer, but it was to anyone who’s worked with Mr. Davis: the feeling that he’s not really, honestly negotiating with you in good faith. This is now an obvious pattern, and something Mark Davis has to evaluate and stop doing.
The first time the lack of good faith problem reared its head in Oakland in 2015. I recall telling Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf that Davis and the Raiders were working behind her back and with the representatives of Carson, California, all the while shining her on as if they intended to work with her on a new stadium in Oakland. At the NFL Spring League Meeting, I asked Mark Davis why he was working behind Mayor Schaaf’s back with Carson – on video with me, he denied doing that, when everyone of the media at that point knew that he was. The scene was not pretty at the San Francisco Ritz Carlton.
The second time was when City of Oakland officials intimated to me that they were upset Mark Davis did not tell them he was going to seek a stadium deal in Las Vegas, instead telling them to wait until the 2016 January Houston NFL Owners Meeting, for the LA decision, and then wait until his stadium point person, Larry McNeil came on board – which was in April of 2016. Between that January and late April, Davis started his Las Vegas work, behind Oakland’s back. I mentioned this on video at Zennie62 on YouTube to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the NFL Spring League Meeting in Charlotte, and he admitted that the Raiders were partly to blame for their Oakland stadium problem.
The third time came in the Las Vegas deal, and when Davis went behind Adelson’s back and to the NFL with an idea to eliminate the owner of the popular Venetian and Palazzo Hotels and “replace” him with financing to be secured by Goldman Sachs. Of course, Davis forgot about the thorny issue of where that money was going to come from, let alone the political fallout from trying to cut Adelson (the unofficial Mayor of Las Vegas, not to offend Mayor Goodman) out of what he saw as a “legacy project” for Las Vegas. Davis went right along and continued to play his game of trying to always have a way of gaining the upper hand in a business deal by forming a way of cutting out his negotiating partner at the last minute.
When Adelson and Las Vegas Sands Government Affairs Rep Andy Abboud realized that Davis was trying to engineer yet another way of going behind their backs in the form of a publicly-released lease proposal they knew nothing about, Adelson had enough, and pulled the plug. For Mark Davis, the third time’s the charm.
Unlike Oakland, Mark Davis partnered with a man in Sheldon Adelson who did not need or really want him or the Raiders – for Adelson, Davis was nothing more than a pawn. A rounding error that found a convenient use as a tool in keeping large sums of tax money away from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Adelson’s personal 1,000-year-war was against the government firm, and it’s ever growing use of the public dollar for convention space. Adelson wanted his privately-built Sands Expo and his hotels to get more business – and so the war was waged. As long as Davis played nice and stayed in his lane, Adelson was happy. But Davis, as is common, did not. He tried to play Adelson, and now is getting played out of Las Vegas.
It’s Mark Davis lesson, but I’m not yet sure he’s learned it. Maybe the NFL will talk with him.