Las Vegas Sun

September 22, 2017

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Sisolak says Raiders on tight construction schedule, cites parking issues at Russell Road site

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Steve Marcus

Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, left, asks a question as committee chairman Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, looks on during a Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee meeting at UNLV Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016.

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 »

Although the Las Vegas Stadium Authority board meeting in the Clark County Commission chambers on Thursday garnered most of the attention, another meeting in another part of the government building took place.

Members of various state and county departments and associates of the Raiders discussed the development plan for the proposed 65,000-seat domed NFL stadium to house the Raiders.

The meeting, which was not open to the public, focused on infrastructure for the stadium, expected to be constructed by 2020. Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak briefed news media after the meeting.

“We had almost every department from the county represented, from air quality to aviation, to zoning and comprehensive planning, I mean every department was there,” Sisolak said. “The Raiders went through some of their diagrams and some of their timelines they’re using in order to get this project done.”

Sisolak did not comment on which Raiders officials were involved in the meeting, but he did say about a dozen people, including architects and construction and management representatives, took part.

Continued cooperation among the multiple agencies involved with the Raiders was also emphasized at the meeting, vital to get the project done by the 2020 NFL season.

“It’s a 32-month project — it’s going to take some time,” he said. “It’s incumbent upon the county to do everything it can to facilitate the development and that it’s done in an expeditious manner.”

The Raiders presented a schedule for construction that Sisolak said the Stadium Authority did not have yet; Sisolak said it’s tight, but it fits the 32-month goal.

“There’s no room for error, but it can be done,” he said. “We have to get to work quickly. We can’t have any missed days, we can’t have any deadlines missed, but I’m confident we can make it happen … They want to be working on the site by December.”

Sisolak said the Raiders' preferred location, the 63-acre Russell Road site, was discussed. Core samples of the land that were taken a few weeks ago turned out well, he said. Just a small amount of caliche was discovered, which was not seen as a cause for concern, and it will be removed.

The Raiders have yet to exercise their option to purchase the Russell Road site, according to Sisolak. John Knott, executive vice president and head of CBRE's Global Gaming Group, who represents the property owners, told the Sun the asking price for the land is $100 million.

Transportation projects in the area surrounding the Russell Road site were also discussed, mainly the possible acceleration of the Interstate 15 projects that would total $899 million.

“The Nevada Department of Transportation and the Regional Transportation Commission were included in the meeting. We exchanged a lot of information, and we’ll have to coordinate the best we can to ensure one process does not hold up the next process, that holds up the next process,” he said. “There’s no room for error. The dominoes must fall in sequence, and everyone is aware of that.”

In addition to the state paying for accelerated road projects, the Raiders would foot some of the bill as well, said Sisolak, who didn't have an estimated amount.

“We’ll determine what projects would have been done anyway, and anything additional in terms of the stadium will be their responsibility,” he said.

The Raiders brought up their concerns with the site, including parking issues. About 6,200 parking spots are planned for the Russell Road site, fewer than the average NFL stadium.

“There were a lot of concerns, yet there were no answers,” Sisolak said. “The Raiders are well aware of that, they’re doing a parking study … I have total confidence that they’re going to come up with a plan.”

The use of nearby hotel-casino parking garage has been mentioned In previous meetings and studies, but Sisolak said the likelihood of that is slim.

“I talked to some of the Raiders folks, and they pointed out the Mandalay Bay garage and the new garage behind the Excalibur. MGM has spent tens of millions of dollars building those garages,” he said. “Those garages were not built to accommodate a football game, and they can’t solve the Raiders' parking problem.”

Renting some spots could happen, Sisolak said, but any parking slots that would be allocated for the stadium have to be for long term.

“It’s my understanding that MGM (Resorts) is not making any of those spaces available,” he said.

With the Russell Road site being so close to McCarran International Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration has to sign off on the height of the stadium and address any other concerns they might have.

“The airport is concerned about some of the lighting, some of the outdoor pyrotechnics that might come about, but the Raiders have been totally accommodating and have met with them every possible way,” Sisolak said. “The FAA will say what the maximum allowable (height) is. We can go up to that point.”

Despite the challenges that loom, if Sisolak’s brief interaction with departing Raiders’ President Marc Badain indicates anything, it appears that the project is heading in a positive direction.

“These guys are great. They’ve done a great job of cooperating with the county. We’re a team,” Sisolak said.

“We’re here to help,” Badain replied.

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