Spoiler alert: the Raiders aren't moving to Las Vegas.
Look, we're in football purgatory right now. Mini-camp action just doesn't get the blood pumping and training camp is still a couple months away. And every year there are one or two garbage stories that dominate the mindless, awkwardness-breaking football small talk circuit that permeates summer barbeque season. This year the Raiders' "potential" move to Las Vegas is one of those stories, and in recent weeks we've been inundated with articles, think pieces, and even odds on whether or not the move will actually happen.
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I know that my writing about this issues is just perpetuating it, but it is shocking to me how many people - smart people - are actually buying into this crap and talking about the Raiders moving to Las Vegas like it's a thing.
The NFL is a goddamn clown car of lie and self-interest. And this latest Raiders-Vegas scam is the latest Kabuki theater perpetrated on The Masses by the bloodthirsty vampires at the top of the NFL food chain: the owners.
Let's take a look at three reasons why this whole proposed move is a sham:
1. The NFL owners are liars and thieves, and you shouldn't believe anything they say.
Los Angeles was an incredibly lucrative boogeyman for the NFL owners for over 20 years. They paid lip service to returning a team to L.A. for decades, but in reality the city served a much more useful purpose by being vacant. Just the threat of moving a team to the City of Angels was enough to allow the owners to extort billions of dollars of taxpayer revenue to fund new stadiums or upgrades.
According to the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, 29 of 31 stadiums have received public funds for construction or renovations on stadiums. According to an article at the Huffington Post, taxpayers have spent nearly $7 billion on stadiums in the last 20 years, while last year the NFL raked in more than $12 billion in revenue. The owners are reaping all of the economic benefits while the taxpayers receive peanuts.
Now that the Los Angeles gap has been filled, the owners need another city to lord over the heads of local governments that might not be keen on ponying up the cash. Vegas politicians have said for years that they would love to have a professional sports team in the area. So the owners have no problem manipulating that earnest desperation to use for their own evil ends.
Public financing of stadiums is one of the biggest scams in this country. And I can guarantee that over the next decade the NFL will use the threat of moving teams to Las Vegas or St. Louis to continue the grift. The problem with Los Angeles was that someone was eventually going to move there. The beauty of Las Vegas is that the league doesn't have any intention to moving into the gambling capital of the Western Hemisphere.
2. The stadium won't get funded.
Mark Davis, Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson, a group featuring at least one of the richest and most repulsive human beings in the country, have all publicly stated that they would throw in to build a stadium in Las Vegas to house the Raiders. That trio have pledged nearly half of the money needed for the proposed $1.4 billion stadium.
But the remaining money would have to come from Nevada's legislature, meaning the NFL would have to fleece at least $750 million in tax revenue from the state. There's been talk of subsidizing the stadium through higher "tourist" taxes. Good luck with that. It's a tough sell, especially considering that more and more economists have combatted the economic impact of having a pro team for the surrounding area.
Nevada state politics are corrupt as hell. (The state was given an 'F' by the Center for Public Integrity in 2015.) They could do something that stupid. And because Adelson now owns the largest newspaper in the state means that he would obviously use the local media as a public relations and propaganda tool in favor of his own agenda, putting further pressure on the pols.
But this isn't a new issue in the state. Businesses in the area have been unsuccessful in the past at selling the idea of diverting public funds to build a pro sports stadium. And I don't know that they could convince the people that have to live in Nevada for the other 357 days a year when there isn't an NFL game to be played at the stadium that having a team would really be in their best interest. (But then again, the public good has never been much of a care of NFL owners.)
3. Oh yeah - gambling.
I'm not going to go off on a rant about how ridiculous the laws against gambling in this country are. I could. But I won't. However, I will say that the NFL is full of willful hypocrites on this subject. Gambling is one of several key reasons that professional football has become a pillar of our national economy.
Roger Goodell has taken a hard line against sports wagering. In 2012 and 2014 they filed a federal lawsuit to sue the state of New Jersey for attempting to legalize sports betting. Sure, the league had no problem allowing a Super Bowl to be played in Jersey in 2014. But you have to wonder where the boundaries of the league's hypocrisy toward sports gambling lie.
I don't think that the NFL could, without stretching the boundaries of all logic and reality, continue its hard line against sports wagering and allow one of its teams to operate at the center of the gambling world. The NFL isn't going to give up the façade of its stance on gambling. So it's much easier to simply flirt with Sin City as a potential landing spot rather than open the Pandora's box of hosting a team there.
Jay Kornegay, vice president of race and sports at Superbook, and Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill US, have said in published reports that they put the odds of an NFL team coming to Las Vegas at 50/50. These are very smart, in-the-know guys. However, I would gladly take that action.
I think people are getting too swept up in the idea of a team coming to Vegas rather than the reality of whether or not it will actually happen. Sure, it would be fun in theory. But in my opinion the odds are much greater that this whole exercise is just a negotiating ploy by the NFL to get the Raiders a new stadium rather than an actual attempt to get a professional sports team into what would be the fifth-smallest media market in the league.
Never say never. But I will say that I don't think there is any chance that the Raiders, or any other team, will move to Las Vegas in the foreseeable future.
Read more articles by Robert Ferringo
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