Sources: Financial giant Goldman Sachs backs out of Raiders' stadium deal

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Raiders' proposed move to Las Vegas was dealt another blow Tuesday afternoon when investment bank Goldman Sachs withdrew its financial support for the project, sources told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.

The news comes a day after billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson angrily withdrew from the Raiders' stadium deal. Adelson had previously committed $650 million to get the $1.9 billion project completed but announced the removal of his stake in a statement on Monday.

The Raiders had presented a plan to the NFL and state lawmakers that relied on financial support from Goldman Sachs, with or without Adelson, but sources told Shelburne that the investment bank -- which has deep and long-standing business ties to Adelson -- decided Tuesday that it was no longer comfortable continuing in its business relationship with the Raiders after the deal collapsed with Adelson.

Adelson, the CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., declared that he had been shut out of talks that led to the lease document presented to the Clark County Stadium Authority.

"We were not only excluded from the proposed agreement," Adelson said, "we weren't even aware of its existence."

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval's office said a lease-agreement proposal submitted last week expressed that the Raiders had intended to pick up the tab for Adelson's pulled $650 million, which would up their total commitment to $1.15 billion for a deal in which they would also accept operation responsibilities and risk. However, sources told Shelburne, that deal was contingent on a loan from Goldman Sachs.

The Nevada State Senate had approved a bill to fund $750 million of the proposed stadium, but support for that commitment largely came from Adelson's connections and influence, and sources told Shelburne that it should not be viewed as a "standing commitment."

The Raiders could find another investment bank to replace Goldman Sachs in the deal or take on another partner to replace Adelson, in advance of the late-March owners meeting where their relocation to Las Vegas was to be considered. They could also return to Oakland.

According to a San Diego Union Tribune report, San Diego's mayor reached out to the NFL saying the city would be willing to talk about adopting the Raiders. San Diego lost the Chargers to Los Angeles in January. In addition to the mayor contacting the league, sources told the newspaper that another person representing the city attempted to reach a Raiders official.

While San Diego might be showing interest in providing a landing spot for the Raiders, at least one politician in Las Vegas thinks Davis' decision to relocate might not work out anywhere.

"If [Adelson] doesn't think it will pencil out for him, it won't pencil out for Goldman Sachs or anybody else that thinks they want to step up to it," Clark County commissioner Chris Giunchigliani told the San Jose Mercury News on Monday. "I hate to say it, some of my concerns are starting to bear out. I don't think Mr. Davis cared about either community, ours or Oakland. He's using us against each other."

A source told ESPN's Darren Rovell that the Raiders' relocation application to the NFL filed on Jan. 19 also did not include Adelson. On Jan. 12, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the Raiders had told the NFL they had assurance from Goldman Sachs that the financial firm would continue to back the team's relocation effort even if Adelson was out of the picture.

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

The Las Vegas Review-Journal, which is owned by the Adelson family, reported Davis had been in Adelson's office "negotiating with the family" even as Raiders president Marc Badain and executive vice president Dan Ventrelle were making a presentation to the authority board on the proposed lease agreement on Thursday.

Any relocation to Las Vegas must be approved by 24 of the 32 NFL team owners. A vote is expected during league meetings in March in Phoenix.

Information from ESPN's Paul Gutierrez and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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