By Ari Rabinovitch
TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson said he is prepared to walk away from a deal to build a stadium that would help relocate the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas if terms offered by the team do not improve.
“I negotiated to bring in the Oakland Raiders, an NFL football team from Oakland, because they don’t have a stadium there, that I would build a stadium and rent it out to the Oakland Raiders,” Adelson said on Wednesday during a travel technology conference in Tel Aviv.
Adelson, who succeeded this month in getting legislation passed to enable the construction of the stadium, said his problems now involve negotiations with the Raiders.
“They want so much,” he said. “So I told my people, ‘Tell them I could live with the deal, I could live without the deal. Here’s the way it’s gonna go down. If they don’t want it, bye-bye,'” he said.
Adelson’s comments signal potential for discord between the billionaire and the team at a time when momentum to build the stadium has been growing.
Nevada’s governor, Brian Sandoval, signed a bill last week that would increase hotel taxes to help raise $750 million for a new $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium. The legislation drew criticism from taxpayer groups and some labor unions, for providing public money for the stadium.
Adelson did not comment on any of the financial details, and a representative for the tycoon declined to elaborate on the remarks on Wednesday. Adelson, who is chief executive of gambling giant Las Vegas Sands Corp, has pledged up to $650 million toward building the stadium, with the remainder coming from the Raiders and the National Football League.
The Raiders relocation is not certain even if Adelson and the team agree terms. Any move would require approval from three-quarters of NFL franchise owners.
Influential owners including Dallas Cowboys proprietor Jerry Jones have already signaled their support. A decision by the owners is expected early next year.
A spokesman for the Raiders did not return requests for comment. A representative for Governor Sandoval also did not reply to requests for comment.
(Additional reporting by Rory Carroll in SAN FRANCISCO; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)