(Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Convention Bureau)
By Ron Borges
Talk of Fame Network
It seems New York Giants’ president John Mara could use a history lesson. Not football history but family history.
At the annual owners’ meeting in March, Mara dismissed the idea that the Oakland Raiders might relocate to Las Vegas. He claimed most owners viewed Sin City as a “non-starter’’ as home to an NFL franchise.
He, of all people, should have known better.
The Maras came to own the Giants because John’s grandfather, Tim, was a highly successful bookmaker. He was in the Vegas business before there was a Vegas, beginning as a runner who kept 5 percent of the take. By the time he was 18, he was running his own bookmaking operation, which is how he came up with the grubstake to buy the Giants’ franchise in 1925 for $500.
With such a history as the cornerstone of the family fortune, Mara’s high horse quickly headed to the barn, in part because the Texas twosome of Jerry Jones and Bob McNair, who own the Cowboys and Texans, want no part of sharing the state with a team in San Antonio … and hence support the Vegas Raiders over a west Texas version.
Raiders’ owner Mark Davis has gotten increasing support as well from Vegas casino operators and state government, the latter anxious to do as they’re told by the former because without the casinos there would be no state government.
Or state economy.
The other possibilities for Davis are finding a way to build a stadium in Oakland (not happening because Oakland is broke) or making a palatable deal with Stan Kroenke to become his tenant in Los Angeles (not happening because the Raiders have more fans in L.A. than the Rams) after Kroenke gets his new stadium built for the Rams.
Considering the complications for the Raiders everywhere but The Strip, you begin to see why the “conscience of the NFL,” as some view Mara, is suddenly having second thoughts.
Last week Mara conceded there’s a possibility Davis will cobble together the minimum 24 votes needed to move to Vegas if he gets the state-sponsored stadium financing he’s seeking and said he’s “open-minded.’’
Mara apparently concluded that few of his fellow owners fear doing business in America’s legalized gambling mecca. In fact, they welcome it, partly because Nevada has the most favorable tax laws in the country, which is to say next to none. That means the 40 percent of game receipts they’d collect after visiting the Vegas Raiders would come with a far smaller tax bit than in California.
Some owners have concerns over the size of the city’s population and its ability to sustain a franchise long-term, realizing this is a problem in Jacksonville they’d rather not repeat. But if casinos and politicians deliver a state-of-the-art stadium and sold-out luxury boxes and club seats, John Mara will help the Raiders pack.
You can bet on that.
His grandfather certainly would.