Tuesday, Oakland Raiders Owner Mark Davis met with members of the media in Orlando, Fla., following the NFL owners’ meetings to talk about the latest Las Vegas Stadium news.
Here’s the full transcript:
*Mark Davis: *“Thanks a lot to them as well as the people in this room for having the confidence in us and giving us the go-ahead to do this. It’s a pretty exciting day. The groundbreaking was a really exciting night, but it’s the ribbon cutting that I’m really looking forward to. We still have a lot of work to do. We’re moving forward. We’ve got a great team of people leading it. People like Marc Badain and Dan Ventrelle have really carried the weight here. They’ve done such a phenomenal job. Really proud of them. It’s an exciting time for the Raiders. Football side is coming together. Reggie [McKenzie] and Jon [Gruden] working together, getting ready for the draft. The football side of the organization is really starting to build this team up so we can play some football.”
*Q: You seem at ease with the direction of the organization. *
*Mark Davis: *“Like I said, I am, but I’ll be more at ease when we do the ribbon cutting. We have two years in Oakland, that we hope to bring a championship there. That was always the goal. We’re excited about that as well.”
Q: How would you describe the year?
Mark Davis: “It’s been an amazing year, it really has. That’s it.”
Q: You have to have one foot in Vegas and one foot in Oakland. Talk about that flexibility.
*Mark Davis: *“We have done that. I think the organization has done a good job in that, even last year. The only time the players really thought about Las Vegas was when you guys were asking about it. Otherwise, Jack did a really good job of keeping that separate and keeping them focused on football. We’ll continue to do the same thing.”
Q: Obviously nothing is done until it’s done, but were you fairly confident today?
*Mark Davis: *“It’s absolutely a box to check off. We’ve hit road blocks along the way with everything that we do, but I’ve learned through being around football my whole life that some days don’t go like you want them to but after you get over the status of defeat, you get right back up and get ready for next week because no one is going to wait around and commiserate with you or feel sorry for you. That’s how this process has gone. People are working. Cooperation we’ve gotten from the public in Las Vegas has been phenomenal. It takes that to get these things done. Really proud of where the organization is right now.”
Q: When you look at this year and all the work that has been done, what strikes you about the progress?
*Mark Davis: *“I think you look at the organization and the people who have brought us this far, which I mentioned Marc and Dan on the business side. Tom Blanda in Vegas, who is working on the stadium down there and addressing everything else. You look at those guys who have basically put in their whole lives, they’ve been working for the Raiders. Grew up as kids here and everything else. Just awesome what they’re doing, it’s really something. They’re doing something that not a lot of people can do: to put a project like this together and get it going in a short time period.”
Q: What excites you most about the plans of the new stadium?
*Mark Davis: *“I think it’s an iconic building, number one. It’s something that… the basic structure of it and everything has brought the dynamic back to what we were doing with the Carson building with the Chargers. I just fell in love with the architectural design of it. To adapt that building that we did for Carson, put a roof on it… to come out with glass, which has always been a prerequisite for me. To get that aspect done, I think building looks fantastic. Just excited that the Raiders will have a home. Something the fans can be proud of, the league can be proud of, the players can be proud of. The Raiders Hall of Fame finally, because we’ll be some place for a long period of time to honor all those people that helped build this organization. It’s just exciting. It’s fun stuff.”
Q: Do you plan to have the Hall of Fame at the stadium?
*Mark Davis: *“We haven’t decided where we are going to do that yet. There are three places that… our offices are going to be out in Henderson. We haven’t decided if it will be out there in Henderson, at the stadium or somewhere on the strip where all the people that come through Las Vegas can see it. That’s a decision we’ve got to make, but it’s a fun one to think about.”
Q: Wasn’t there some discussion among owners where you were ironing out details? Anything important today on how the plan has evolved?
*Mark Davis: *“We’ve had a number of meetings throughout the process. Most of the time it was just updating them on where we are.”
Q: So today was the approval of the $1.8 billion financing?
*Mark Davis: *“That as well as the G4. They approved all of our financing plan. [inaudible] LA is going to be phenomenal. I think they’re putting the NFL Network at the site there so that’s exciting.”
Q: How cool has it been to watch the hockey team there be embraced by the fans, knowing that’s going to be you?
*Mark Davis: *“I think they’ve done a phenomenal job. You’ve seen it down there. They did a good job reaching out to the local community and the local community has bought into it. It’s exciting to go. I’ve been to hockey before and it’s pretty exciting but I complement them on what they’ve done so far. I think they made the playoffs last night if I’m not mistaken.”
Q: How often do you make it out to Las Vegas as this process unfolds?
*Mark Davis: *“You know, not as much as I will be. During football season I was here, mostly, and now that Jon and Reggie are working together, I put less attention on the football side. Like I said before I’ll be the devil’s advocate which they appreciate. (laughter) I’ll be down there more now that we’re starting to get moving to the building stage and there’s other issues that go along with that. But, I’m excited about it.”
**Q: Did you and the Super Bowl major events committee meet down in Orlando?
*Mark Davis: *“We didn’t meet this trip.”
Q: You won’t meet until May?
*Mark Davis: *“Yeah, I think in May we have a meeting.”
Q: Do you have any sense as to when the Raiders will host a Super Bowl and also a draft?
*Mark Davis: *“Yeah, I think the draft will obviously come first. And then we’ll see how that all irons out. You know the change in the process for the Super Bowl, so it’s not as much a competition as it is going to be a strategic decision making. But I think with the results of the sales of the stadium and as positive as they are up to this point, I think it will be a slam dunk when it comes time for us to put in a proposal for it or get into that process. There are probably four or five teams right now and cities that have already been approved. I don’t know if it’s this or May when we’ll approve two more. (inaudible) But, maybe we’ll go for one of the ones right after that.”
Q: I think the next four are set in stone, correct?
*Mark Davis: *“Right and I think Tampa and Arizona may be on the next agenda – short list. We were hoping maybe we can get the draft in short order, which would be great to introduce the NFL to Las Vegas and Nevada. I would hope for the one probably to be in 2019 or ‘20, probably ‘20 would be better prior to the ’20 season and prior to us playing there would be a good way to introduce the NFL in there.”
Q: Did the demand (of seats) exceed your expectations?
*Mark Davis: *“I didn’t know what to expect to be honest, I really didn’t.”
Q: I got the huge number of sales…
*Mark Davis: *“Yeah, it’s absolutely a huge number. We really haven’t gotten to those people yet per say because we haven’t started in reserve seats. We just started into the club seats and that’s been great, but the suites have been really amazing.”
Q: Why is having natural grass important to you?
*Mark Davis: *“It’s always been important to me. One of the top reasons is safety of course and also, football should be played on grass, you know? It just seems to be. Track should be on a hard surface and then football should be on grass.”
Q: Did your Dad ever comment on the way stadium turfs were trending?
*Mark Davis: *“Not so much, no. But it’s interesting. When you get to [player] safety type of thing. I had a few questions earlier and we were talking about that and I was wondering about AstroTurf - do the visiting teams have more injuries than the home teams? Because there’s such a difference in AstroTurf or turf fields throughout the different places, that if the home team, because they know the shoes and things to wear just out of experience, do they have less injuries? Or the fact that they play on it more, do they have more injuries? It’s gotten better and better obviously through the years, but I like grass. I thought that Arizona, having that roll-out field was a great thing. (inaudible)”
Q: Can you outline what you anticipate happening at the Las Vegas Stadium Authority meetings tomorrow?
*Mark Davis: *“Tomorrow? Well that will be [President] Marc Badain and [Executive Vice President and General Counsel] Dan Ventrelle who have been carrying that load the whole time. (laughter) And they’re heading down there. They’re flying out of here tonight at six o’clock. They’re flying straight into Vegas and they’ll have the meetings. I think it will be great. So far, it’s been unbelievable. They’ve had things that they’ve requested of us and we’ve had to mix some concessions and things like that and sure, because it’s a team type of thing. But all in all it’s just been a great relationship and a great working process. To see how fast this has come together, it’s really pretty incredible. Tommy White is (inaudible), he’s got those “Beat LA” shirts now that we’re going to try and beat the LA stadium in getting built and we started a year behind them. So, there’s that kind of competition, but I don’t know, it’s pretty amazing.”
Q: August 1st, 2020…
*Mark Davis: *“That’s what they’re saying.”
Q: Coach Gruden said he might have some of your Dad’s plays in the playbook. It must be cool to still have your Dad’s presence around in some types of ways…
*Mark Davis: *“Yeah, Jon works so hard and watches film so much and still has the passion for football. I lived with a guy that had that same passion and same love for the game. I’m glad Jon decided to take the opportunity to come back and do it. It’s exciting. We still have to win some games, man.”