Mark Davis (American football)
Davis in 2017
1954/1955 (age 62–63)|
Charleston, South Carolina
|Alma mater||California State University, Chico|
|Occupation||Businessman and sports franchise owner|
|Known for||Principal Owner of the Oakland Raiders|
US$500 million dollars|
Mark Davis (born 1954 or 1955) is an American businessman and sports franchise owner. He is the principal owner and managing general partner of the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League (NFL).
Prior to team ownership
Prior to owning the team, Davis was involved in the retail part of the Raiders' business where he helped develop the organization's Raider Image stores. He also spent time in the Raiders equipment department where he developed the muff-style hand warmer for football. In 1980, Davis represented Raiders player Cliff Branch in contract negotiations with the team which resulted in a deal that included an annuity (still active) and got Mark kicked out of his father's house for being too close to the players. He later lived with Branch when the team moved to Los Angeles.
Davis inherited the team after the death of his father, Al Davis, in 2011. Davis with his mother, Carol, owns a 47 percent share of the Raiders, which is contractually structured to give them controlling interest. Davis has day-to-day control of the team.
Davis gained control of the team towards the end of the Raiders lease with the O.co Coliseum, a facility that dates back to 1965 and has multiple issues due to its age. It is also the only stadium which still houses an NFL and an MLB team at the same time.
In his short ownership of the Raiders, Davis has focused on the business aspects of the team while leaving football matters in the hands of general manager Reggie McKenzie. This form of management is in stark contrast to his father, who was well known as one of the most hands-on owners in professional sports. Al Davis became general manager of the Raiders in 1966 after returning from a short stint as AFL commissioner, a post he kept after becoming principal owner in 1972. He exercised close control over both business and football matters until his death.
In 2013, Davis fired the Raiders public relations director because of a Sports Illustrated article that was critical of Davis' father. Davis stated that the director's replacement needed to understand the importance of his father's legacy and actively protect it.
On domestic violence in the NFL
Davis spoke out publicly on the issue of domestic violence in the NFL, following San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald's arrest on August 31, 2014. Davis disagreed with Jed York's decision to keep McDonald on the active roster, proposing that the league should suspend any player arrested with pay while "the investigation moves forward" This was the first proposal of this kind following the Ray Rice assault video surfacing, that specifically called for an immediate suspension of players rather than leaving the decision to suspend up to the respective franchises themselves. In March 2015, Davis again went public on the issue of domestic violence, shutting down rumors that the Raiders' started negotiations with Greg Hardy, who was convicted on domestic abuse charges earlier that year. The Raiders' organization has traditionally been vocal about domestic violence issues, with direct involvement with the Tracey Biletnikoff Foundation, created by Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff to support community substance abuse treatment and domestic violence programs.
Davis has spoken out publicly on the controversial National Anthem protests in the NFL where players kneel during the playing of the pre-game National Anthem to protest social injustice and police brutality on African Americans. Davis originally preferred his players to stand but after comments made by President Donald Trump calling protesting players "Sons of Bitches" and saying they should be fired for kneeling Davis changed his stance in a public statement the following weekend stating “About a year ago before our Tennessee game I met with Derek Carr and Khalil Mack to ask their permission to have Tommie Smith light the torch for my father before the game in Mexico City,” Davis told ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez. “I explained to them I was asking their permission because I had previously told them that I would prefer that they not protest while in Raiders uniform. And should they have something to say once their uniform was off, I might go up there with them. Over the last year, though,” Davis continued, “the streets have gotten hot and there has been a lot of static in the air and recently fuel has been added to the fire. I can no longer ask our team not to say something while they are in a Raider uniform. The only thing I can ask them to do is do it with class. Do it with pride. Not only do we have to tell people there is something wrong, we have to come up with answers. That’s the challenge that’s in front of us as Americans and as human beings.”
In May 2018, Davis abstained from a NFL owner resolution on the anthem protests that called for players to stand or stay in the locker room until after the anthem is played or face a team fine for kneeling, locking arms or raising their fist. Davis abstained along with San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York after speaking out on social justice issues to the other owners.
Relocation to Las Vegas
Davis put himself in charge of an effort to establish a new stadium for the Raiders, an issue that his father Al was never able to solve in his tenure as owner. He initially stated a desire to keep the Raiders in Oakland (preferably on the Coliseum site) or the immediate area. Due to the lack of a stadium plan, Davis began to communicate with representatives in other cities such as Los Angeles, California, San Antonio, Texas and in the end Las Vegas, Nevada.
In late February 2015, Davis announced that the Raiders would pursue a shared stadium in Carson, California, with Dean Spanos and the San Diego Chargers. Davis cited the proposal as the result of years of talks with Oakland city officials that ultimately led nowhere. While the Chargers have historically been inter-divisional rivals, he recognized that Spanos was in a similar position with San Diego city officials and that their partnership could expedite the process of resolving the stadium issue for both franchises. The Los Angeles Times reported that the team's relocation could result in the franchise "being worth 150% of its current value".
On February 23, 2015, while still involved in the Carson project, Mark Davis attended a secret meeting at the UNLV International Gaming Research Center to look at Las Vegas sports betting, its effect on pro sports, how it could effect a pro sports team in Vegas and how the Raiders and the NFL could possibly work in Las Vegas. At the time Las Vegas was seen as a long shot candidate for the Raiders. The meeting was set up by Napoleon McCallum, former Raiders player and current Las Vegas Sands employee. In attendance was Davis and McCallum along with then UNLV president Don Snyder and Bo Bernhard, executive director of the International Gaming Institute. The meeting would not be known about until two years later.
On April 23, 2015, a new proposal for the Carson stadium was released, outlining several personalized touches for the shared tenants. These include stadium seating changing from navy blue to black depending on which team homefield, as well as a 120-foot tower on the concourse that would serve as a memorial for the late Al Davis for Raiders touchdowns or shoot simulated lightning for Chargers' touchdowns. The Carson stadium proposal also featured sprawling ground-level parking, rather than multi-story carparks, at the request of Davis who insisted that tailgating at a new stadium was a necessity. Davis' and Spanos' proposal directly competed with and eventually lost to Rams' owner Stan Kroenke and his proposed stadium in Inglewood.
In 2016, the Carson Stadium design was retained by Davis with the small additions of a roof and black covering instead of silver in a stadium proposal with Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corporation to interests in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Until after the Carson vote Davis was also actively working towards a resolution in Oakland. In an interview, he said "we are trying everything possible to get something done in Oakland right on the same exact site we're on right now". The Oakland stadium proposal called for a smaller 55,000-seat stadium at the current site, with space for commercial development and renovations for the existing BART Station.
After a dispute over rent in Oakland where the city raised the rent on the team after the Carson plan failed and a lack of what Davis saw as a credible plan from Oakland, Mark Davis began discussions with Las Vegas. He initially teamed up with Sheldon Adelson to get a stadium in Las Vegas.
During Davis' meeting with Adelson, he also visited the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), which included a contingent consisting of the university's president Len Jessup, former university president Donald Snyder, Steve Wynn, and former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) owner Lorenzo Fertitta. The stadium is being proposed to replace Sam Boyd Stadium and would serve as the home of both the Raiders and the UNLV Rebels college football program. A relocation to Las Vegas would be a long-term proposal, as Sam Boyd Stadium is undersized for the NFL and there are no other professional-caliber stadiums in Nevada. Raiders officials were also in Las Vegas to tour locations in the valley for a potential new home; they were also on the 42-acre site of the proposed stadium to ask questions about the site.
Interviewed by sports columnist Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, Davis said that he had a "great" visit in the city he described it as interesting. Davis also said that Las Vegas was a global city and that "it's absolutely an NFL city," as well as saying that "the Raider brand would do well" and "I think Las Vegas is coming along slowly".
On March 21, 2016, when asked about Las Vegas, Davis said, "I think the Raiders like the Las Vegas plan," and "it's a very very very intriguing and exciting plan", referring to the stadium plan in Las Vegas. Davis also met with Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval about the stadium plan. On April 1, 2016, Davis toured Sam Boyd Stadium to evaluate whether UNLV could serve as a temporary home of the team and was with UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez, athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy, adviser Don Snyder and school president Len Jessup to further explore the possibility of the Raiders moving to Las Vegas.
On April 28, 2016, Davis said he wanted to move the Raiders to Las Vegas and pledged $500 million toward the construction of a proposed $2.4 billion domed stadium. "Together we can turn the Silver State into the silver and black state," Davis said.
At a media conference in UNLV's Stan Fulton Building, Davis also said the club had "made a commitment to Las Vegas at this point in time and that's where it stands." In an interview with ESPN after returning from a meeting for the 2016 NFL draft he expanded upon reasons why Southern Nevada held a certain appeal over the East Bay of the Oakland–San Francisco Bay Area, how he tried to make it work in Oakland and why (as he told Sandoval) he hopes to turn Nevada into the "Silver and Black State"; he also spoke of the meeting saying, "It was a positive, well-organized presentation that I believe was well-received", and stating, "It was a very positive step in finding the Raiders a home."
On May 20, 2016, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he would support Davis and the Raiders move to Las Vegas, stating, "I think it would be good for the NFL." If the Raiders were to move to Las Vegas the only competition they would have is the Vegas Golden Knights of the National Hockey League. On August 11, 2016, Raiders officials met with Northern Nevada officials about the possibility of Reno being the site of a new training camp/practice facility and toured several sites including the University of Nevada, Reno, Reno area high schools, and sports complexes. On August 25, 2016, the Raiders filed a trademark application for "Las Vegas Raiders" on the same day renderings of a new stadium (located west of Interstate 15 at Las Vegas) were released to the public.
On September 15, 2016, the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee unanimously voted to recommend and approve $750 million for the Las Vegas stadium plan.
On October 11, 2016, the Nevada Senate voted 16–5 to approve the funding bill for the Las Vegas stadium proposal. The Nevada Assembly voted 28–13 three days later to approve the bill to fund the new Las Vegas stadium proposal; two days later, Sandoval signed the funding bill into law.
Davis told ESPN on October 15, 2016 that even if the Raiders are approved by the league to relocate to the Las Vegas metropolitan area, the club would play the next two seasons at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum in 2017 and 2018, stating "We want to bring a Super Bowl championship back to the Bay Area." The team would then play at a temporary facility in 2019 after its lease at the Coliseum expires. Davis has also indicated a desire to play at least one preseason game in Las Vegas, at Sam Boyd Stadium, as early as the 2017 season.
On October 17, 2016, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed into law Senate Bill 1 and Assembly Bill 1 which approved a hotel room rate tax increase to accommodate $750 million in public funding for the new stadium.
The Raiders officially filed paperwork to relocate from Oakland, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 19, 2017. On January 30, 2017, it was announced that Adelson had dropped out of the stadium project, also withdrawing the Las Vegas Sands' proposed $650 million contribution from the project. Instead, the Raiders would increase their contribution from $500 million to $1.15 billion. One day after Adelson's announcement, Goldman Sachs (the company behind the financing to the proposed Las Vegas stadium) announced its intent to withdraw from the project.
On March 6, 2017, the Raiders revealed Bank of America would be replacing the Sheldon Adelson portion of the funding. On March 27, 2017, the National Football League officially approved the Raiders move from Oakland to Las Vegas in a 31–1 vote, ensuring them a new stadium in the process.
Davis is a graduate of California State University, Chico. Davis says he is a food connoisseur and has said that his favorite restaurants include Dan Tana's in Los Angeles, California, Joe's Stone Crab in Miami Beach, Florida, and P.F. Chang's. Davis is known for his signature bowl haircut and for driving a 1997 Dodge Caravan SE which is outfitted with a bubble-top Mark III conversion kit as well as a VHS player mounted to the roof. Davis has an estimated $500 million net worth.
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