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April 23, 2017

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Up next for NFL stadium project: Finalize Raiders lease, UNLV’s role as co-tenant

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Courtesy of MANICA Architecture

A look at the proposed $1.9 billion domed football stadium for the Oakland Raiders and UNLV football in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Raiders stadium: Russell Road Site

A view of traffic on Russell Road near the proposed Las Vegas Raiders stadium Russell Road site Wednesday, March 29, 2017. Launch slideshow »

It’s all about the paper.

Las Vegas officially reserved its place in the National Football League more than two weeks ago. Cementing that move will require stacks of paperwork generated through months of continuing negotiation among the team, the Las Vegas Stadium Authority and UNLV.

The stadium authority board will convene next week for the first time since NFL owners approved the Raiders' move. The board spent most of its last meeting on March 9 discussing potential issues with the lease agreement that eventually will govern the Raiders’ tenancy in the new $1.9 billion stadium that drew the team from California.

The lease, though, is just one of a handful of important documents that must be agreed upon before the Raiders can break ground on that stadium. To stay on track for a 2020 opening, construction work on the stadium must begin by December to remain on the expected 32-month schedule.

What do the franchise and local officials need to finalize to make the Las Vegas Raiders stadium a reality? These are the documents we know are needed as of today.

Lease

The document that receives the most attention is this one, largely because the draft submitted in January by the Raiders fell short of expectations with some authority board and university officials. Multiple people close to the negotiations said in recent days that the version of the lease scheduled for presentation next week will look nothing like the January proposal.

The lease will encompass a wide variety of terms including (but far from limited to) future capital improvements, rent payments, use of suites and club seating, stadium naming rights, advertising and parking. Per Senate Bill 1, which authorized $750 million in public funding toward the facility, the lease must cover 30 years.

Stadium Authority Chairman Steve Hill characterized the lease agreement as 75 percent completed and said it could largely be finished by the board’s May 11 meeting.

“The lease is the one we’ve concentrated on and been working on for a longer period of time,” Hill said.

Development

The stadium must be built before it is occupied, of course, meaning the terms for its construction need to be spelled out separately. This element likely will take the longest to complete because it moves in concert with the high-impact project study currently in process for the team’s preferred site west of the Strip at Russell Road, Hill said.

The Raiders will develop the stadium in concept, but most likely will contract with an established company like Majestic Realty, the original stadium developer that stepped away from the project in October. At the time, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson still held a $650 million stake in the development of the stadium, but SB1 had not been approved by the Nevada Legislature.

UNLV shared-use

Do not overlook the importance this piece holds for local officials. To understand why, go back to the SB1 process in October. Eager to find a solution that allows the UNLV football team to escape dated and distant Sam Boyd Stadium, legislators stipulated the Raiders would need to share the facility with the Rebels as a condition for receiving taxpayer funding.

Gerry Bomotti, UNLV senior vice president for finance and business, said recently that university representatives did not feel the initial proposal put forward by the Raiders sufficiently worked in the Rebels’ interests. Bomotti said UNLV’s primary concern remains creating a true home-field advantage on Rebels' game days.

The board likely will not approve a lease until the shared-use agreement takes shape, but Hill said Wednesday that document could be completed around the same time as the lease in May. This protects the university’s interests and also could be necessary because the lease will overlap with this document on field markings, suite use, signage and sponsorship.

Non-relocation

At the same time the Raiders sign the papers to come to Las Vegas, they also must commit not to leave town.

This document likely will look similar to that of other cities, including a 33-page agreement in Houston. That contract spells out the Texans’ requirement to play all but one home game per season within the local area. It also details what happens if some unforeseen problem at their stadium forces them out of the building. In short, the Texans would first have to look for another suitable place to play within the Houston area before playing games elsewhere. The agreement also covers what happens if either side defaults on its obligations.

The Raiders’ version of this agreement likely will include similar language to that of Houston and other cities, Hill said. Its timeline will trail the lease and shared-use agreement.

Personal Seat Licenses (PSL)

The Raiders began accepting $100 deposits toward PSLs almost immediately after the approval of their relocation application. The Sun examined what that deposit actually gets you last week. PSL sales are expected to generate at least $200 million toward the Raiders’ contribution to the stadium, which is largely built on $850 million in loans from Bank of America and the NFL. Hill said this agreement should be straightforward as well, with the authority selling PSLs on the Raiders’ behalf but also holding no responsibility to cover a shortfall if the sales fall short of expectations. The PSL document should mirror the non-relocation agreement in the timeline.

Community benefits

An informal agreement between Adelson and state Sen. Aaron Ford regarding ancillary community benefits first came to light last year. With Adelson no longer part of the project, that agreement likely will need to be revisited. It definitely will need more specifics before it can be finalized.

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