LOS ANGELES — The Las Vegas Aces tip off Game 1 of the WNBA Finals against the Connecticut Sun Sunday at 12 p.m. PT in southern Nevada. Some 85 minutes later, and 280 miles away, the Las Vegas Raiders kick off the season at the Los Angeles Chargers.
Mark Davis, who owns both Las Vegas franchises, is in Southern California as he chose to attend his football team’s season opener. But not without first putting together a list of pros and cons, he told ESPN Saturday night.
“As I’ve said before, I feel like a single parent with two children and each one of them have something different to do on the same day at the same time, and you have to make a decision,” Davis said with a laugh. “After thinking it through, with Josh (McDaniels) coaching his first game here with the Raiders, and the Aces playing at home, it just made it easier for me to make that decision to come to the Raider game. Because (the Aces) have the home crowd in Las Vegas and they’re rabid (fans) and I don’t know that I’ll be missed as much.
“So, it just made sense to do that. But if we get into a fourth game next Sunday and have to play in Connecticut, I’ll be at the Aces game because it will be a deciding game.”
The Raiders play host to the Arizona Cardinals on what would be Game 4 of the WNBA Finals. Davis acknowledged he could not remember the last Raiders game he missed.
“What I’ve also said is the Aces are not a hobby; it’s the real deal to me,” Davis added. “I’m fully in on that, fully bought in. They’re professional athletes and hopefully we’re going to bring a championship to Las Vegas. You’ve seen that happen once with Jerry Tarkanian and (the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels men’s basketball team in 1990) so maybe this will be another one.”
Davis, who was besieged by selfie-seeking fans in the lobby of the team hotel and granted each photo wish, also spoke on how he did not like Game 1 of the WNBA Finals going up against the NFL’s kickoff weekend.
“It’s tough for me to understand the why and how,” he said. “I don’t know who made that decision, whether it’s the networks that made the decision, or the league, or both together. But they need to rethink it, obviously. To bring the first game of the WNBA Finals…to go up against the opening game of the National Football League, just makes no sense. Hopefully people will hear this and maybe they’ll put two TVs on in their bars. Really, I would hope people will … have one of the TVs showing the WNBA game while they’re showing football.
“It just doesn’t make sense to me (because) we’re trying to get eyeballs on this (WNBA) league and that’s how you get media contracts. And that’s probably one of the biggest things that we’re after right now is to try to get a media contract that will at least make it possible for these women to get some more money, or the teams at least to be able to operate. So, it just makes it tougher. It makes the argument tougher because they’ll say, ‘Well, look at your Finals (ratings), they didn’t get many eyeballs.’ They’ll use that to negotiate. But it’s not going to stop us. We’ll get there.”
When it comes to the Raiders, however, Davis said does not know “enough” about the team on the eve of the opener since the star players — quarterback Derek Carr, wide receivers Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow, tight end Darren Waller, left tackle Kolton Miller, defensive ends Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones and linebacker Denzel Perryman — did not play in the preseason.
The Raiders, under McDaniels, went 4-0 in exhibition games.
“I’ve seen preseason, I’ve seen some practice, but we haven’t seen, really, the ‘ones’ go yet,” Davis said. “That will be interesting to see.
“It’s really exciting. We’ve got our weapons on offense. We really do have a great offensive team now and we’ll see how the defense is. The defense can be really exciting. We’ll see.”