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NFL stadium site options narrowed to 5 priority, 3 secondary

Raider Nation Pub Crawl

Yasmina Chavez

NFL Raiders fans took photos with each other during a Raider Nation hosted pub crawl in Downtown Las Vegas Friday, July 22, 2016.

Updated Thursday, July 28, 2016 | 6:45 p.m.

Five sites in the valley today emerged as leading contenders to house a proposed 65,000-seat stadium that could bring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas.

Backers of the stadium told the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee that the primary spots under consideration are the Bali Hai golf course south of Mandalay Bay, about 63 acres off Russell Road and Interstate 15, some 100 acres controlled by Station Casinos off Tropicana Avenue and I-15 and two UNLV options.

Bali Hai was not among the nine possible sitesthat were presented to the infrastructure committee two weeks ago. The two UNLV sites are 42 acres on Tropicana near Koval Lane — the original site discussed for the stadium — and campus land by the Thomas & Mack Center.

Backers said today that they’re also considering three secondary options that have been previously discussed: Wynn Resorts’ golf course behind its Strip casinos, MGM Resorts International’s festival grounds across from SLS Las Vegas and the Cashman Center.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Majestic Realty Co. want to build the stadium as a venue for the Raiders, UNLV football games and other large events. The price tag could be $1.7 billion to $2.1 billion, $750 million of which developers want to be publicly funded, likely via county hotel room taxes.

The stadium’s potential funding has been a source of debate before. The chairman of the infrastructure committee previously introduced an alternate plan that would cut the public contribution to $550 million, and it wasn’t well-received by Sands, Majestic and the Raiders.

Also, 55 percent of Clark County voters polled in a recent KTNV-TV 13 Action News/Rasmussen Reports poll said they were against using taxpayer money to help fund construction of the stadium, KTNV reported this week.

But Sands released the results of its own poll today in which 60 percent of voters surveyed indicated support for raising room taxes to fund the stadium.

The two polls asked different questions. In the KTNV/Rasmussen Reports poll, voters were asked about using “up to $500 million in state taxpayer money to help finance a stadium that would bring the NFL’s Raiders franchise to Las Vegas,” according to KTNV. The Sands poll, meanwhile, asked about “a special legislative session ... to approve a less than 1 percent increase in Las Vegas hotel room taxes that would be used to build a retractable roof-style stadium.”

The Sands poll also asked voters to react to two different points of view about the stadium and room taxes.

In one viewpoint, the poll offered the claim that “funding a new stadium at no expense to Nevada taxpayers and financed through private investments and less than 1 percent increase in Las Vegas hotel room taxes paid by tourists is a great benefit to the economy of Nevada.” The poll contrasted that claim with the viewpoint that “funding a new stadium by increasing room taxes seven hundred and fifty million dollars will take away from existing convention and entertainment businesses.”

In response, 58 percent of those surveyed said room taxes should be increased, while 34 percent said they should not be increased, according to the poll.

In any case, committee and stadium backers have been more focused lately on location, which has direct bearing on cost. Stadium backers hope to narrow the location list to two possible sites by the committee’s next meeting on Aug. 25.

“We’ve made that day a priority, and we intend to stick with that,” Majestic executive Craig Cavileer said at today’s meeting.

To narrow the list down even more, backers will have to grapple with a range of complex considerations. Those include transportation, parking, site size, land cost and infrastructure.

A particularly pressing issue for multiple sites is their proximity to McCarran International Airport. The two UNLV options and the Bali Hai golf course are across the street from airport runways, so developers would need to ensure that a stadium at any of those locations could coexist with McCarran operations. Southwest Airlines has already cited major concerns with the 42 acres on Tropicana.

Separately, Raiders President Marc Badain said at the meeting that the team had finalized a parking and traffic study it commissioned for multiple sites.

Badain said an “extensive research study” on the Las Vegas market and its capacity had been completed, and that another was about to start. He said a study on the economic value of media exposure for a Las Vegas NFL team had finished as well.

Raiders owner Mark Davis previously promised the committee $500 million toward the stadium’s cost and made it clear that he wants to relocate his team if a deal is finalized.

“I know there are some people that still question our commitment,” Badain told the committee today. “I hope you don’t.”

Last week, the Las Vegas City Council approved a motion to promote Cashman as the stadium location. Mayor Carolyn Goodman sits on the infrastructure committee, and she urged backers today to give it stronger consideration.

Committee members also got an initial look today at the potential for a tax-increment area, which would allow the stadium to capture certain tax revenue generated on — and potentially around — its premises. Jeremy Aguero of Applied Analysis discussed with the group a “draft, work in progress” examination that he said would offer an idea of the work being done on that front.

Among other findings, Aguero’s presentation indicated that a 300,000-square-foot retail and entertainment district in proximity to the stadium could generate as much as $19.56 million in incremental sales tax revenue annually. That’s based on the current sales tax rate of 8.15 percent. Stadium backers and the committee have yet to finalize details of the tax area.

The committee was supposed to finalize its legislative recommendations by the end of this month, but Gov. Brian Sandoval recently extended the group’s deadline until the end of September. If the committee recommends legislation to fund and oversee the stadium project, Sandoval would likely need to call a special session of the Legislature.

That’s because the Legislature isn’t scheduled to meet again until February 2017, but stadium backers want to bring a deal to the NFL by January. For the Raiders to move to Las Vegas, 24 of the 32 NFL team owners would need to approve.

The committee has two more meetings scheduled after its August gathering: one Sept. 15 and another Sept. 22.

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