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November 21, 2018

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UNLV scores big win with draft stadium agreement

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Courtesy of MANICA Architecture

A look at the planned $1.8 billion domed football stadium for the Oakland Raiders and UNLV football in Las Vegas.

UNLV’s most important football victory of 2017 took place well after its season ended.

The university will retain significant control of major revenues on the days its football program uses the new Raiders stadium, according to a draft of the joint-use agreement between UNLV and the franchise. The terms represent a significant improvement for UNLV from those initially proposed by the Raiders in July, although the amount of rent the university will pay remains nebulous at best.

University regents will review that draft at a special meeting Jan. 4 and then consider approval at another special meeting Jan. 19. Their sign-off would push the document forward for approval to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority in late January or early February.

Senate Bill 1, the state legislation approved in October 2016 that provided $750 million in taxpayer funds to build the stadium, required the Raiders to share the facility with UNLV’s football team as a condition of receiving the money. University officials said throughout the six-month joint-use negotiation process that maintaining a game-day home field ranked atop their list of priorities.

UNLV hired powerful New York sports law firm Herrick — at a rate of up to $745 per hour — to protect its interest after receiving the first draft from the Raiders. That move appears to have provided a good return on investment.

“This draft Joint Use Agreement is the result of the ongoing negotiations, which began in June," said UNLV Athletics Director Desiree Reed-Francois. "It has been submitted as an information item to our Board of Regents for their review and will be considered for their approval at a subsequent meeting later in January.”

Per the draft agreement, UNLV would be able to sell as many as 70 percent of the anticipated 100 luxury suites for its six annual home games in the $1.8 billion stadium. The university would keep money from those sales, as well as club level and non-premium seat revenues as well. Off-limits would be 22 “owner’s level” suites and eight other designated suites.

The first draft terms would have given the Raiders exclusive right to sell luxury suites and club seating for UNLV football games as part of larger packages including Raiders games and other major events. For these sales, UNLV would have received only an amount equal to the average per-ticket price for club seats at a Rebels game for the number of tickets issued inside the suites.

UNLV maintains control of its parking destiny as well, a notable change from the deal first proposed by the Raiders. The agreement explicitly states that “no portion of UNLV’s property will be used by (the Raiders) for parking for Raiders’ home games or other stadium events.” It also allows UNLV the right to use and maintain revenue from the stadium’s 2,375 on-site parking spaces.

UNLV also can use any off-site parking sites obtained or leased by the Raiders, but the Raiders would keep revenue from those areas. The franchise initially asked to use nearly 80 acres of university land for game-day and event parking, including the Thomas & Mack Center lot and a 42-acre parcel near Tropicana Avenue and Koval Lane slated for mixed-use development.

The university’s rent payment to the Raiders will be determined on an annual basis and will consist of only actual operational costs of using the 65,000-seat facility. Before each UNLV season, university and Raiders official will meet to determine services and costs. Net revenues from UNLV games and events will be paid to the university within 60 days of stadium officials noticing the school of its game-day costs.

The Raiders will buy the Rebels their own artificial turf field, and they will maintain and repair the field at their expense. The professional team will play on its own natural-grass surface that will roll in and out of the stadium on a tray, similar to the field at University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona.

Signage identifying the Raiders stadium as the home of UNLV football will be installed at each entrance as well.

Raiders representatives declined comment on the draft agreement.

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