There have been whispers at the edges of the Oakland Raiders-to-Las Vegas deal that kinks are beginning to show in the ongoing negotiations between the team and the city and state.
Kinks, though. Not insurmountable problems.
Rumors in both Oakland and Las Vegas that the Raiders have been examining the possibility of extending their temporary lease with the Coliseum to include the years 2020, 2021 and 2022 have picked up steam in the last several days, but the issues that have caused this impetus are described by sources at both ends of the deal as "not yet large enough to cause a real problem."
As one source said, "The casinos want this (Raider deal to get done), and the casinos get what they want."
The main sticking point is negotiations between team, the city, the state and the University of Nevada Las Vegas, which just hired a new athletic director, Desiree Reed-Francois, who is an expert on facilities use and once worked for the Raiders and the NFL Management Council as a legal assistant. She has been adamant about issues of stadium use (the Raiders and Rebels are to share the stadium), and the Raiders apparently have been playing standard NFL hardball on their part.
One source said that may not be the only issue involved, but that it is a considerable one – considerable that is, if you list the issues at hand. "Everyone wants the deal done, but they don't want UNLV to get muscled too badly," he said.
But the issue is enough that the Raisders have inquired about 2020-2, and Scott McKibben, the executive director of the Oakland stadium authority, told the Las Vegas Sun last week that he would be willing to negotiate a lease extension "for 2019 and beyond, if necessary."
McKibben told the newspaper that the city currently loses money when the Raiders play at home, and would want changes in the current lease provisions for negotiations on an extension to proceed. Talks have not yet progressed because construction on the Las Vegas site have not yet begun.
The reason given by most experts as to why the stadium has not yet begun its construction phase is that any work done before there is an agreement would happen on the Raiders' dime, not the city's or state's, and any potential liability would be the team's to assume as well.
Thus, according to sources, the Raiders are talking about a lease extension in Oakland as a leverage play against Las Vegas.
Thus, we have your standard game of multi-headed chicken being played out in two states by two cities and two athletic organizations that have stalled the team's expected relocation, at least a bit.
But, as that source said at the top of this piece, "The casinos want this," and in Las Vegas, the house always wins. It's just one more Raideresque complication in a litany of them.