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September 25, 2017

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Agreement assures community benefits from planned NFL stadium

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Courtesy of MANICA Architechture

An artist’s illustration of a stadium on Russell Road and Las Vegas Boulevard was revealed during a Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee meeting at UNLV Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016.

If Nevada politicians are worried about reported tensions between Sheldon Adelson and the Oakland Raiders, those who attended a Thursday morning news conference touting the community benefits of a planned NFL stadium in Las Vegas didn’t show it.

Instead, Democratic state Sens. Aaron Ford and Kelvin Atkinson ran through a host of components they say will be included in a forthcoming community benefits agreement negotiated with stadium developers. The stadium would be built with $650 million from Adelson, $500 million from the Raiders and $750 million in public money generated by an increase in the Clark County hotel room tax.

The media gathering at the Urban Chamber of Commerce in West Las Vegas came a day after Adelson reportedly expressed frustration regarding negotiations with the football team. The casino mogul was attending a tourism and travel conference in Israel when he made the remarks.

“They want so much,” Adelson told Reuters. “So I told my people, ‘Tell them I could live with the deal, I could live without the deal. Here’s the way it’s gonna go down. If they don’t want it, bye-bye.’”

A Las Vegas Sands Corp. executive, speaking on behalf of the Adelson family, called the report a “nonstory” and said Adelson was simply describing how he negotiates.

“We were with the Raiders all day yesterday,” said Andy Abboud, senior vice president of government relations and community development for Sands. “Nothing to worry about. A negotiation is a negotiation.”

Abboud then quickly pivoted to today’s announcement regarding community benefits.

The stadium-related legislation, which Gov. Brian Sandoval signed into law last week, stipulates that the developer and operating company must craft a community benefits plan to ensure a broad swath of local residents can partake in the job opportunities the project creates.

The bill-signing ceremony followed a special legislative session in Carson City, where lawmakers approved the $750 million public financing plan for the stadium.

The community benefits agreement won’t be formalized for at least a few months, but Ford outlined a number of the expected provisions:

• The stadium developer and operator will use “reasonable best efforts” to hire locally for at least 50 percent of the jobs, while aspiring to reach 75 percent.

• There will be hiring goals to reach a diverse group of Nevadans, including low-income residents, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, veterans, ex-offenders and those within the LGBT community.

• Community impact grants, funded by the developer, will bolster workforce development and at-risk youth services in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

• The stadium developer will provide paid apprenticeships and internships in fields such as engineering, facilities operations, sales and marketing, and information technology.

• A “living wage” will be provided to everyone who works at the stadium. The developer also will enter into a project labor agreement for the stadium’s construction and related infrastructure improvements.

• Certified business enterprises owned by minorities, women and veterans will be provided opportunities associated with the project.

• The developers will contribute a financial investment toward a youth recreation facility and programs for at-risk children and teens.

The facility operator will provide a quarterly report to a stadium community oversight committee, which will be charged with carrying out the benefits agreement, Ford said. Penalties for not adhering to the agreed-upon goals have not been decided, he said.

Even so, Ford characterized the community benefits agreement as a “win-win” for residents and local businesses. “Investing public money in a stadium requires a guarantee that the public will reap significant benefits,” the Senate minority leader said.

Abboud said the Adelsons are committed to providing opportunities for local residents who most urgently need jobs.

“These are not going to be low-paying jobs,” he said. “These are going to be good jobs with good benefits. It’s very important to them.”

Some community members, however, weren’t satisfied with the promises.

Sheila Collins, who grew up in West Las Vegas, said state politicians and business leaders need to address rampant poverty and unemployment-related problems that persist there.

“I just don’t want this to be another one of those dog-and-pony shows,” she said.

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