Billionaire Steve Wynn quietly has been taking on a power-broker role to help bring the NFL to Las Vegas.
Addressing his involvement for the first time during a red carpet event Friday, Wynn revealed he’s met with Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis and two influential NFL owners, Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and Stan Kroenke, who recently moved his St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles.
Wynn said Las Vegas has to be ready if the opportunity presents itself.
“If the NFL says, ‘If you want to move to Las Vegas, Raiders, you can,’ then we’ve got to spring into action and we’ve got to come up with a program.
“I just thought it would be a great thing for the town, don’t you agree?”
Word of Wynn’s interest recently surfaced. At a Thursday news conference at UNLV, Davis confirmed he met with Wynn. Rob Goldstein, president and chief operating officer of Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp., credited Wynn with initiating the domed stadium conversation in a meeting with Adelson and Goldstein about three or four years ago.
“This very idea came out of his mouth,” Goldstein said at the news conference after he and Davis appeared before the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee.
Las Vegas Sands operates Adelson’s empire of hotel-casinos. Sands is a partner with Ed Roski’s Majestic Reality in pledging private financing for a proposed $1.4 billion domed stadium in the Strip resort corridor.
Davis on Thursday told the SNTIC, an advisory panel appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval, that he would provide $500 million toward the construction of the 65,000-seat stadium if a public-private financing plan is approved by the Legislature.
I asked Wynn if he was partnering with Adelson.
“Well,” said Wynn, “Sheldon and I are both very strong supporters of it, and how it plays out is something we’ve got to see.
“We haven’t been down to the nitty gritty of it because, first of all, do the owners believe this is OK?” he added. “Their attitude toward the relationship with sports and gaming has changed. They’re having two games in London, where the entire audience can bet play by play, and the NFL is going to London and the audience is participating in that.
“So there’s been a sea change in the NFL’s attitude, at least based upon the London games,” Wynn continued. “It’s not hypocritical. I think they’re in a state of change. How that plays out with us is interesting.”
Wynn emphasized that “the one thing that Las Vegas should have in its arsenal that’s missing is a great stadium and an NFL team,” he said.
Davis “is dying to do it. He came to see me and Sheldon (Adelson). He made the rounds. He wanted to make sure there was local support.”
“Now financing these puppies is no small thing. How that plays out. … I went to dinner last week with Jerry Jones and Stan Kroenke and got into the conversation how Jerry did Cowboys [AT&T] Stadium.
“It’s a lamination of several different types of layers of financing,” Wynn said, “and we’re going to have to focus on that if there’s local support. Let me put it this way: If there’s a will, there’s a way.
“The question is if you can get 24 of 32 owners to agree,” Wynn said of the league support required to relocate an NFL franchise. “So there’s two strategies here: to get the others to think it’s OK, at least 24 out of 32, and secondly develop a strategy for financing,” he said.