Deals don’t get done until deadlines are in place or something major shifts at the bargaining table. For the city of Oakland that time is now. Las Vegas wants the Raiders to move into Sin City. Vegas and Nevada wants the Raiders so much that state government gave the team $750 million — the largest amount in history — in public money to build a football stadium. That sum was apparently the only way to get the deal done. Now it is Oakland’s turn to counter or risk losing the Silver and Black for good.
Let’s make this perfectly clear: the Raiders need a new stadium. There is no debate that their current situation is untenable. It is recognized as one of the worst situations in the league. There have been leaks, sewage problems, the baseball diamond creates game play issues. It’s not going to work as currently constituted.
Oakland has stood pay on not providing any public assistance to build a new stadium in the city. Nevada’s $750 million pledge may change that. The reality that Oakland could lose its team should have been apparent last year when the Raiders almost moved to Los Angeles. Now there is a set deal on the table for an insane amount of money.
The good news for Oakland is that they don’t have to match $750 million. They probably don’t need to come close. The league is preparing a market study on both Oakland and Las Vegas. We don’t need the NFL’s study to figure out what will be considered.
First Oakland’s media market is ranked 6th in the country — the market is San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose. Nevada’ is ranked 40th. Oakland is a growing market going through gentrification and population income increases due to the Bay Area’s tech boom. Nevada’s economy is tied to the fickle hospitality industry. The Bay Area has a ton of Fortune 500 companies — actually the second most in the U.S. behind New York — while Nevada has four. Naming rights, suites and PSL’s matter. While the four casino companies in Nevada could theoretically buy all the suites up, it’s much better for the Raiders to have a diversified portfolio of business customers. There’s less risk.
Then we get to season ticket holders and regular tickets. The idea that fans will come from around the country to Las Vegas to watch the game is fun in theory, but not practical. New England, Cowboys, Packers, and Steelers fans may go to Las Vegas once to see their team play. They aren’t going every year. The same can be said for division rivals. Kansas City and San Diego fans are not selling out the new stadium every year. It’s not realistic.
Add this all up and it means Oakland may not have to come close to the $750 million promised by Nevada. There’s no set number on what Oakland would have to provide — they would have to provide something — but the Oakland market is simply better for the future of the NFL. Outside of wanting some shiny glamour team in Las Vegas, it’s not really a contest when it comes to economics and financials.