It’s unclear precisely how many Las Vegas residents are clamoring so loudly for the Raiders to move to town that nearly $1 billion in public funds was needed to make it happen. One person with a significant sports interest in Sin City apparently wishes that the Raiders had stayed the hell out.
Bill Foley, owner of the NHL’s expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights, would have opted against plunking down so much money to lure the Raiders to Las Vegas.
“I felt like there were a lot better ways to spend $750 million than bringing the Raiders to Las Vegas,” Foley said on a local radio station, via the San Jose Mercury News. “We could spend it on police, firefighters and teachers and have them all be the best in the country. But I guess we’re going to spend it on the Raiders. . . . If I had complete control of the situation, I would not have opted to have the Raiders come here. But I didn’t, so I welcome them.”
As everyone learned last Sunday, the investment significantly exceeds $750 million. Another $200 million emerged in the final proposal for infrastructure improvements aimed at accommodating the new venue.
While the Raiders are getting nearly $1 billion, Foley will pay for his own stadium. Which makes his resentment of the situation normal and understandable.
Even though Foley has plenty of reasons to be salty, a very real question remains regarding whether the average person in Las Vegas feels strongly enough about the Raiders coming to town to justify spending so much money to get them there. Reportedly, only 50 showed up for a rally celebrating the move.
But public sentiment doesn’t matter in places where lawmakers can make public money available without a public vote. In most cities and states, a ballot measure aimed at paying for a football stadium would fail, badly. Moving forward, only those places that can pull it off without citizens having to pull the “yes” lever will be able to finagle the free money that gets the NFL’s attention.