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June 27, 2019

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Feeling slighted, Adelson severs ties with Raiders stadium project in Las Vegas

Sheldon Adelson

John Locher / AP

In this May 4, 2015, file photo, Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson testifies in court in Las Vegas. Adelson has pulled out of a deal to build a $1.9 billion stadium for the Oakland Raiders in Las Vegas.

Updated Monday, Jan. 30, 2017 | 11 p.m.

Click to enlarge photo

An artist's illustration of a stadium on Russell Road and Las Vegas Boulevard was revealed during a Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee meeting at UNLV Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016.

If the Oakland Raiders are paying just $1 annually to lease the proposed $1.9 billion domed football stadium near the Strip, then billionaire Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson won’t be involved.

Adelson has withdrawn as a chief financial backer of the stadium project, stressing his displeasure of being kept in the dark about a meeting of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority last week when it was revealed the Raiders would lease the stadium for just $1.

“The Oakland Raiders came before the Las Vegas Stadium Authority last week with a proposed lease agreement that has sent shockwaves through our community,” a statement from the Adelson family said. “It was certainly shocking to the Adelson family. We were not only excluded from the proposed agreement; we weren’t even aware of its existence.”

Adelson played an instrumental role in the effort to lure the Raiders, which eventually grew into a $750 million commitment of taxpayer money to the deal. He and his family had pledged $650 million — an amount the team will have to seek from other sources. The Raiders have promised $500 million.

“It’s clear the Raiders have decided their path for moving to Las Vegas does not include the Adelson family,” the statement continued. “So, regrettably, we will no longer be involved in any facet of the stadium discussion.”

The stadium could still be built. Earlier this month, Goldman Sachs emerged as a potential replacement investor while the Adelsons and Raiders couldn’t agree on terms.

The lease proposal would have the Raiders operate the 65,000-seat stadium that would be built at a site yet to be decided, near the Strip.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, who called lawmakers into a special session to approve tax funding for the project, thanked the Adelson family "for their role in bringing a publicly owned stadium to Las Vegas."

"It is unfortunate that they were unable to come to terms with the Raiders," the governor said.

He added that terms of the law passed to fund the public portion of the project won't change, "and the state's contribution will not increase as a result of this announcement." He said the proposal now is for the Raiders to invest $1.15 billion and accept operating responsibilities.

Stadium Authority Chairman Steve Hill, who also serves as Sandoval's development chief, vowed to "continue to ensure the stadium project is developed in a manner consistent with the clear direction of Nevada lawmakers."

The plan isn't only to bring an NFL franchise to Nevada, but also to build a stadium for UNLV football "and enhance our state's core tourism economy," Hill said.

In a statement, the Raiders acknowledged Adelson's involvement in the project over the past year and promised to make good on owner Mark Davis' vow to move to Las Vegas.

The Raiders, unable to secure a new stadium in the Bay Area, submitted relocation paperwork with the NFL last week. Its potential move to Las Vegas will be a hot topic at this week’s Super Bowl. Commissioner Roger Goodell will address media Wednesday and likely be flooded with questions on the status of the Raiders.

Adelson's withdrawal means the Raiders will go forward with a decision pending from NFL owners who must approve the move — they could vote as early as March during league meetings in Phoenix. It also means the team won't have to ask team owners to waive a rule prohibiting casino operators from having ownership roles in teams.

Any relocation to Las Vegas must be approved by 24 of the 32 NFL team owners.

Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, who has been intimately involved in the stadium and Raiders plan, characterized Adelson's departure as "a significant setback ... unless Goldman Sachs has someone lined up to step into Adelson's place."

"I do not know how the other owners are going to react to this," Sisolak said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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