WILD WEEK: RAIDERS MOVE CLOSER TO RELOCATION TO LAS VEGAS; SUPERFIGHT TALK CONTINUES, MEDIA NOTES & MORE
Two of the biggest sports and entertainment stories in Las Vegas history appear to moving closer to reality by the hour. There were reports on Saturday that the Oakland Raiders are committed to Las Vegas lock, stock and logo. And the dream match between unbeaten boxing king Floyd Mayweather Jr. and UFC superstar Conor McGregor continues to gain breath-taking momentum.
“Is the NFL ready for Las Vegas? It better be,” wrote Ian Rapoport, who writes the National Insider column for the NFL Network and NFL.com.
“The Raiders will file relocation papers to move from Oakland to Las Vegas, according to sources familiar with their thinking. After a year of planning, debate, and bold action, after many years of a sub-par stadium option in Oakland, the Raiders have made a firm decision on their future,” Rapoport wrote.
It was a week that saw the long-rumored and oft-dismissed Mayweather-McGregor battle explode in the headlines.
Days after my Jan. 5 report here in which I quoted a source saying negotiations had reheated and the fight was going to happen, Mayweather came out Tuesday and said he would come out of retirement if his opponent was McGregor and $100 million was guaranteed to Mayweather. He offered McGregor $15 million.
In an interview with Fox Sports 1’s Colin Cowherd, UFC president Dana White scoffed at that breakdown and countered with $25 million to both and a split of the pay-per-view “to a certain point.”
The Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao brought in a record 4.4 million buys, with Mayweather getting $250 million to Pacquiao’s $150 million.
White said he’d be disappointed if Mayweather-McGregor didn’t do over 2 million buys. That’s $50-$60 million per fighter.
He added, “Don’t think that Floyd doesn’t need money because he likes to burn it.”
From the NFL meetings in New York came some stunning news from Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II who told reporters the Raiders were looking at moving ahead without Sheldon Adelson as one of the investors. Adelson, who put together the deal for the $1.9 billion stadium, had pressing Raiders owner Mark Davis for an ownership position.
According to a report in the Review-Journal, Raiders executives informed the Las Vegas Stadium Authority board that Goldman Sachs has guaranteed the money needed to finance the move.
A source told Vegas Diary, “I think it’s easier for the NFL if the partnership is on the facility rather than the ownership of the team. I think Adelson still wants the stadium even for reasons beyond the NFL.
“But,” said the source, “this still is so volatile.”
On the media news front:
Jim Prather is out after nearly 14 years as vice president and general manager at ABC affiliate KTNV-Channel 13. He moved to Las Vegas from Milwaukee in 2003 where he was a longtime executive with the Journal Broadcast Group, KTNV’s owner until E.W. Scripps completed the purchase in 2015. He was an executive vice president for the Journal Broadcast Group from 2005 to 2015, according to his Linkedin page. Jeff Block, who left Scripps last year, is Prather’s temporary replacement, according to reports.
KATE MADDOX JUMPS TO CNN
Kate Bennett, a Las Vegas TV anchor, magazine editor and gossip columnist for over 11 years, has been hired by CNN to cover happenings at the White House.
She will continue to team up with Hunter Schwartz, Bennett’s co-author of The Political Edit newsletter at the Independent Journal Review.
In a quick turnaround, they informed the IRJ on Friday and will join CNN Politics team on Monday so they will be up and running to the presidential inauguration Friday.
She arrived in Las Vegas in 1999 as newly married Kate Maddox, got divorced, worked as a news anchor at KTUD and an entertainment reporter at KLAS-TV, Channel 8.
She was editor of Vegas Magazine before moving to Washington, D.C. in 2010. She helmed Capitol File and The Washingtonian magazines. She also worked for Politico as a gossip columnist.
At her going-away party at the Hard Rock’s Sky Bar she held out her wrist and showed me fresh tattoos of a heart, spade, diamond and club to symbolize her love of Las Vegas. After her divorce, she had “rebirth” inked near a shoulder.
She has 1,200 followers on Instagram. That will change quickly.
JON SARACENO JOINS R-J
Longtime USA Today sports columnist Jon Saraceno has joined the Review-Journal in the role as lead writer in the Raiders’ possible move here and the boxing beat. Saraceno, who worked at USA Today for more than three decades, covered more than 200 championship fights. Adding Saraceno to their roster is “a stellar play for the R-J,” said a longtime friend and past competitor who cited Saraceno’s “vast contacts library” and deep sports connections. He was hired by ABC affiliate KTNV-TV, Channel 13 as exclusive analyst for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight May 2, 2015.
Rocker Sammy Hagar jammed with Eagles guitarist Don Felder on Friday before Felder’s show with Styx at The Venetian. Hagar was filming his hit show “Rock & Roll Road Trip With Sammy Hagar” on AXS TV. Felder rode shotgun as Hagar cruised onto the Venetian property in a classic Cadillac. Inside the theater, they performed a few acoustic tunes, including The Eagles’ hit song, “Hotel California.” Felder and the Styx’s last show was Saturday night.
THE PUNCH LINE
“It’s raining so hard now, we’re actually having mudslides here in L.A. This morning I was driving to work and I was passed by a house.
Good news, the five-year drought is over. That’s right — last night, I had sex.” – Conan O’Brien