There are two different types of owners in the NFL, the old guard and the businessmen. The old guard’s main focus is ‘protecting the shield.’ Their main business interest is their team, and they tend to favor loyalty over the bottom line. The businessmen bought into the NFL and were most likely successful in something else before getting involved with football. They care about growing the game and focus more on profits than politics. Those two groups went head to head in the race for L.A. relocation and the businessmen won, backing Stan Kroenke’s Rams bid. Now that the battle for Los Angeles is over, it looks like the battle for Las Vegas has just begun, and Mark Davis and Sin City may hold the trump card with Jerry Jones on their side.
Jones is one of — if not the — most influential owners in the NFL. He holds a lot of sway and was the major backer in Kroenke’s winning bid for the Inglewood stadium. If Jones is backing Davis, that means a lot of the same people who voted for Kroenke’s bid could be behind Davis’ idea to move to Las Vegas.
Outside of ownership concern, there are not many hurdles for the Raiders move. They already have funding in place.
If the $750 million in tax funding is passed by the state legislature and city government, the Raiders have a good shot at bringing NFL football to the gambling and party mecca of the United States.
That doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. The proposed move still presents some financial challenges in a smaller market, but revenue sharing makes it possible that the team could still be profitable and financially valued higher than it is in Oakland.
The NFL has been behind other leagues when it comes to legalized gambling — except when it has to do with its teams relationships with daily fantasy sites — and this could signify a change in strategy. The NBA has already essentially backed legalized and regulated gambling in the U.S. and the NFL doesn’t want to be behind a big money maker. The fact that Jones is talking so openly about a possible move to Vegas creates the impression the NFL may be shifting gears. And it puts the possibility of a Raiders move as a much more likely possibility than it was only a few months ago.
Michael Colangelo is Managing Editor of The Fields of Green and Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute.