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Sheldon Adelson exits deal to help fund stadium for NFL’s Raiders in Las Vegas

Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson abruptly pulled out of a deal to help fund a $1.9-billion stadium for the Oakland Raiders in Las Vegas and threw into question the financing behind the team’s possible relocation.

Adelson, who had earlier pledged $650 million toward the project, said in a statement Monday that he will “no longer be involved in any facet of the stadium discussion.”

“It’s clear the Raiders have decided their path for moving forward to Las Vegas does not include the Adelson family,” the statement said.

The withdrawal is the latest twist in the NFL’s ongoing relocation saga and comes less than three weeks after the Chargers announced they will move from San Diego to Los Angeles.

When the NFL’s stadium and finance committees gathered earlier this month, the Raiders presented financing plans that would include, or not include, Adelson’s participation. Previously, the Raiders agreed to contribute $500 million to the project — including a $200-million NFL construction loan — and Nevada’s Legislature green-lighted $750 million in public money last fall.

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Last week, the Raiders submitted a proposed lease to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority that included the team’s paying $1 a year in rent. That didn’t sit well with Adelson.

“It was certainly shocking to the Adelson family,” the statement said. “We were not only excluded from the proposed agreement; we weren’t even aware of its existence. In addition to being discouraged by the surprise submission, I was deeply discouraged for the disregard the Raiders showed our community partners, particularly [Nevada Las Vegas], through the proposed agreement.”

The Raiders filed paperwork earlier this month to relocate. Twenty-four of the league’s 32 owners must approve a move, but they aren’t expected to vote until, at the earliest, the league’s annual meeting in March.

“This may have a conflicting impact,” said Marc Ganis, a Chicago-based stadium consultant who is a regular presence when NFL owners meet. “It may be helpful with the NFL because of the longstanding prohibition to gambling connections by teams, but may hurt in Las Vegas because [Adelson] was one of the driving forces behind the public financing and marketing commitments needed.”

Clark County (Nev.) Commissioner Steve Sisolak expressed disappointment over the development but remained “hopeful that we will see our NFL dream come true.”

The Raiders have said Goldman Sachs will finance the project regardless of Adelson’s involvement.

In a statement, the team said: “The Raiders deeply appreciate the efforts of the Adelson family to bring the Raiders to Las Vegas. We know this project could not have advanced to this point without them. The Raiders remain steadfast in honoring Mark Davis’ commitment to Gov. [Brian] Sandoval and the state of Nevada to pursue relocation to Las Vegas.”

nathan.fenno@latimes.com

Twitter: @nathanfenno


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