Las Vegas Sun

March 29, 2017

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Why Raiders are so confident about L.V. stadium financing

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Steve Marcus

A truck decorated with a Raiders helmet and “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign is displayed before a bill signing ceremony at UNLV Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Senate Bill 1 will increase hotel room tax to help finance a $1.9 billion stadium.

Oakland Raiders officials insisted Thursday they will acquire the suddenly missing $650 million needed to finance their new $1.9 billion stadium in Las Vegas.

Exactly who will put up that money remains a mystery now that billionaire Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson withdrew his financial commitment to the project last week.

Members of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority board and Raiders representatives attempted to calm concerns about the franchise’s proposed move to Las Vegas at Thursday’s board meeting.

Raiders President Marc Badain told board members that “financing will not be an issue” following Adelson’s decision to abandon the project. Once thought to be a backup option, Goldman Sachs indicated through representatives that its interest was contingent upon Adelson’s involvement.

“We’re in an industry where we’re used to plugging along, and we’re used to having starts and stops,” Badain said. “(Raiders owner) Mark Davis made a commitment to Gov. (Brian) Sandoval, and we intend to see that through.”

Badain said “multiple financial institutions” have called to express interest in joining the stadium project, which includes a $750 million public financing component generated by room tax revenue and a $500 million commitment from the Raiders. Badain did not name any of those companies, nor did he detail if any of them are local or indicate how far into discussions the team has progressed with any potential partner.

“You’d be surprised how many people are interested in funding this project,” Badain said.

Badain declined to comment after the meeting, saying he needed to catch a flight.

Eight to 10 potential investors contacted Stadium Authority board Chairman Steve Hill after Adelson stepped away from the project. Hill characterized about half of those contacts as potentially serious backers.

“We’ve heard from a broad variety of people,” Hill said. “It’s the Raiders’ job, not our job, to develop that component.”

Hill offered comment at the beginning of the meeting, reaffirming the group’s commitment to bringing a National Football League team to Las Vegas within the 18-month time frame allowed by Senate Bill 1, which expires in April 2018. The Legislature passed the bill last year to provide the public financing piece requested by Adelson and the Raiders.

“This is a significant opportunity for Las Vegas and we’re excited by that and we’re thrilled to be a part of that,” Hill said. “We are fully committed to working with the Raiders in order to make this a reality.”

For the Raiders, that timing is much more compressed.

The team submitted its relocation application to the NFL last month, and league owners could vote on the move as soon as late March. To support the application, the two sides need to demonstrate to the league some progress on the draft lease agreement submitted by the team to the board at the group’s last meeting, Badain told Hill.

If the Raiders want to use Sam Boyd Stadium as a temporary home until a new stadium is built, UNLV President Len Jessup said the university will consider upgrading the facility to make it suitable for the NFL. Such enhancements could include increasing the temporary capacity of Sam Boyd to 50,000 seats and improving the outdated locker room facilities.

“We are prepared to upgrade Sam Boyd Stadium if we are asked,” Jessup said. “We’ll work with them to make that stadium ready.”

Jessup also affirmed UNLV’s commitment to building its own smaller stadium if the NFL does not locate a team in Las Vegas. He expressed confidence he could raise the $200 million required by SB1 as the university's contribution to such a facility. Jessup pointed out that suite sales and stadium naming rights could be counted toward the $200 million in addition to any philanthropic gifts.

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