By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The issue of taking an NFL team and moving it out of town is always a messy endeavor. And with regard to the Oakland Raiders moving to Las Vegas, some details are starting to trickle out.
For one, The New York Times reported that part of the NFL’s ultimatum to the city of Oakland was to evict the Oakland A’s from Oakland Alameda Coliseum.
From Michael Powell’s story:
[NFL commissioner Roger] Goodell had pressed [Oakland mayor Libby] Schaaf to evict the Oakland A’s of M.L.B. — the football and baseball stadiums would have been neighbors under the proposed arrangement — and declare her loyalty to the financial well-being of the Raiders. She saw no reason to sever a relationship with a baseball team that also was entwined with her city’s identity.
“Asking us to terminate their lease now,” she wrote to the league this past weekend, “is unnecessary and unreasonable.”
For her to suggest that another sport merited equal footing with football smacked of foolish independence. The N.F.L. may preside over a game that destroys bodies and brains at a frightful rate, but its lords view themselves as the crown princes of sport. Every other professional league operates in its shadow.
The unwillingness to give the boot to the A’s, as well as an unwillingness to finance a new stadium for the billionaire owners, ultimately resulted in Oakland losing the Raiders.
That’s one interesting angle. An even more fascinating piece of information comes from Tim Kawakami of The Mercury News.
Kawakami reported that the lead architect of the Raiders moving from Oakland to Las Vegas was not team owner Mark Davis. Instead, it was Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Not only does Jones profit like all owners from such a relocation, but Jones personally profits from his the involvement of his business — Legends Hospitality Management — in the construction of new stadiums.
Jones owns about one-third of Legends, “a hospitality-marketing company that will now sell the suites and sponsorships for the Las Vegas stadium,” as describedby Kawakami. Jones profited handsomely from the suites and sponsorship sales of the Rams and Chargers in Los Angeles as well as the 49ers’ new stadium when they moved from San Francisco to Santa Clara. And with another payday in sight with the Raiders, Jones drove the train.
According to Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Star-Telegram, Jones made “many trips” to Las Vegas to complete the deal.
“The deal couldn’t have happened without his involvement, input and influence,” Hill wrote of Jones.
Now [Jones] stands to gain millions with the Raiders moving to Las Vegas in terms of the relocation fee to the Cowboys and personally with Legends spear-heading everything in sales and marketing.
Consider that it was Jones who pushed the deal through for St. Louis Rams to relocate to Los Angeles roughly 15 months ago.
Not coincidentally, Legends is selling the suites and sponsorships for the new stadium in Los Angeles.
Legends also had a hand in the San Francisco 49ers deal for Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
Legends sold out the suites and sponsorships there.
And more, from Kawakami:
Nevada legislature voted to provide $750M to the Raiders’ Las Vegas stadium effort.
That was money that Oakland could never and should never have committed to any project like this.
Once that happened, even after casino magnate Sheldon Adelson was pushed out of the deal, Jones made sure Las Vegas was going to happen for the Raiders–even bringing in Bank of America to take Adelson’s place in the financing.
The most remarkable thing (to me) is this: Jones/Legends will reap all this profit from these moves, while the team owners are the ones taking the financial risk.
But again, Jones’ role essentially guarantees limited risk for the moving franchises–his company lands the big sponsorship and suite deals, he helps negotiate the relocation fees, the fees come as a percentage of the increased revenue… everybody wins.
It is a fascinating wrinkle to the relocation news, with the NFL’s most powerful leader brokering the big-ticket changes to the makeup of the entire league, all while profiting immensely from a personal business venture. It’s that type of aggressive maneuvering that makes Jones a $5 billion man, but it’s also the type of profit-driven maneuvering that has now left three cities of NFL fans left in the dust.