By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The move of the Oakland Raiders to the city of Las Vegas was extremely complex, as most business dealings are when hundreds of millions of dollars are involved.
In late March, some details regarding Jerry Jones’ involvement in the move came out, noting how much the Cowboys owner stood to profit from his suite and hospitality business in the new stadium. And on Friday, ESPN’s Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr. released a 7,000-plus-word story detailing even more.
In the story, for ESPN The Magazine, the writers detailed Jones’ multiple roles in the process, after billionaire/casino magnate Sheldon Adelson was no longer in the picture regarding the move.
From the story:
A league source observed, with a mix of marvel and resentment, that Jones was essentially wearing five hats: shadow commissioner, deal broker, stadium financier, proponent of legalized daily fantasy wagering in Nevada — and owner/general manager of the Cowboys, as he was soliciting investors while attending the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. Actually, Jones had a sixth stake: He is the part owner, with the New York Yankees’ ownership group, of Legends Hospitality, the privately held merchandise and concessions company that would work for Davis in the new stadium, as it does for a handful of teams, earning tens of millions of dollars per club. Both the league and the Raiders appreciated Jones throwing his weight behind the project, adding legitimacy to it, convincing skeptical owners that the city and team would be a perfect marketing and branding match in a beautiful new stadium that could host the combine and even a Super Bowl.
While many in the league may have appreciated Jones’ efforts, Patriots owner Robert Kraft did not.
Though Kraft was in favor of the move to Las Vegas, he apparently did not approve of the power Jones was wielding, according to the report.
More from the story:
Still, the fact that Jones appeared to go rogue infuriated some around the league. “It’s a major conflict of interest,” a longtime aide to an NFL owner says. “Won’t Mark Davis always be beholden to Jerry Jones?” Several sources said Jones’ Legends Hospitality emerged as one of a handful of suitors attempting to partner with the Raiders for the stadium’s nonfootball revenue. No one was angrier than Robert Kraft of the Patriots, a powerful proponent of the move to Vegas. On March 1, Adelson called Kraft — the native Bostonians have been friends for more than three decades and are members of the same synagogue — to commiserate over what had happened. “Jerry is running wild,” Kraft said. “I can’t believe this.”
“I’ll kill this if you want me to,” Adelson replied.
Kraft didn’t want him to kill the deal. And Adelson decided against trying to kill it himself, though it was widely believed in Vegas that he could have done so.
The Kraft tidbit — and the story as a whole — provides fascinating insight into the intricacies of these major deals, how they’re executed, and how many different hurdles need to be cleared.
The information in the story was culled from “interviews with nearly two dozen owners, league officials, team executives, city and county officials, lawyers and staffers involved in the relocation efforts, some of whom requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the negotiations.” Of course, it’s not the first Wickersham/Van Natta story to rely on some anonymous sources, though this one used decidedly fewer than the 90 anonymous sources who slung mud at the Patriots back in 2015.
And considering Jones needled Kraft personally during the throes of DeflateGate, the idea of Kraft being left bewildered at Jones’ “running wild” in the Las Vegas process certainly fits the bill of being noteworthy.