Las Vegas Sun

June 26, 2019

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8 things to know about the proposed Raiders’ stadium lease

Raiders Stadium Rendering

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.

The Oakland Raiders laid out their preferred terms in a draft lease agreement with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority last week. They also apparently caught billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson off guard, as he withdrew his $650 million investment in the $1.9 billion stadium project Monday afternoon.

Authority Chairman Steve Hill said last week that he remained confident the Raiders would continue with their proposed move with or without the Adelson contribution because of another financing arrangement with Goldman Sachs. The Raiders, who favor the proposed Russell Road site, filed relocation papers to the NFL earlier this month. NFL owners could vote on the move in March; 24 of 32 owners are needed for approval.

The Sun read through the draft lease and highlighted a few points. It is important to note these items represent only requests from the Raiders that still must be negotiated with the Stadium Authority.

Raiders first: The lease makes clear that the Raiders would be considered the primary user of the stadium. This would allow the franchise to accept or reject any potential UNLV football game times and dates, or other collegiate bowl games or showcase neutral-site contests. The terms also stipulate that “under no circumstances shall field markings for the (Raiders) games be diminished or compromised in any way by the presence of collegiate football games of any kind.”

While that might sound like a minor request, it recalls the unintentional comedy of the field-sharing arrangement at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., between host Arizona State University and the Arizona Cardinals. On weekends when Arizona State played at home on Saturday and the Cardinals came in the next day, the image of Sun Devil mascot "Sparky" often could be seen at midfield sticking his trademark pitchfork through the head of the painted-over Cardinal logo — an appropriate look for the once-moribund NFL franchise in the early 2000s.

• Home away from home: The NFL continues to expand its global presence, playing regular-season games last year in London and Mexico City, where the Raiders played against Houston. The lease terms would allow the Raiders to play as many as 10 home games out of the country over the 30-year agreement. The lease makes clear that no reimbursement is owed to the Stadium Authority for lost revenue based on international games — potentially a big deal given that each NFL team only plays eight highly lucrative regular-season home games per year.

• Capital steps: Under the terms of the draft agreement, local officials would be on the hook for any necessary capital improvements to the stadium. This issue recently became a major point of contention between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Maricopa County in a lawsuit filed by the team seeking either more help in fixing up Chase Field or the ability to seek a new stadium.

• Getting personal: The authority would retain the right to sell what are called Stadium Builder’s Licenses (SBL) as a means of generating revenue. You might recognize them better by their more dated name of Personal Seat Licenses (PSL).

These controversial licenses require a person interested in season tickets to first purchase a license to the seats in the stadium. Levi’s Stadium, the new facility built in Santa Clara, Calif., for the San Francisco 49ers in 2014, uses SBLs. More than 1,200 are currently available for resale on the team’s official marketplace website, ranging from $625 for a corner upper-deck seat to $449,500 for the Legacy Club.

• Rent payment: The most widely reported aspect of the lease is the Raiders’ request to pay to a generously low rent to the Stadium Authority.

“The Authority acknowledges that the Team has made a substantial investment in capital expenses to construct the Stadium, and as a result the Team shall be obligated to pay the Authority the sum of One Dollar ($1.00) annually as annual rent.”

That provision raised eyebrows among local officials and looks quite likely to become a point of discussion at the next authority meeting.

• Beer here! If a cold brew or exquisite libation is your bag, fear not: The lease proposes to allow alcohol sales on game days all the way through the beginning of the fourth quarter. Your pregame tailgate and postgame celebration are, of course, not included.

• County road: One interesting typo in the lease comes on page 66, where the team references its intent to establish a local business office in the “Seven County Metro Area.” Unless the Raiders developed a sudden affinity for land in Tonopah, we assume that is a holdover from a draft of the Minnesota Vikings’ lease for U.S. Bank Stadium, which opened in Minneapolis — the center of the Seven County Metro Area — in 2016.

• Lease length: The Raiders drafted a 30-year agreement, which if fulfilled would represent the longest period spent in any location by the Davis family, which owns the team. The franchise started in Oakland in 1960 and moved south to Los Angeles in 1982. After spending the next dozen years in Los Angeles, the Raiders moved back to Oakland for the 1995 season.

If the full 30-year lease were to be completed, the draft agreement calls for the Raiders to preserve the right to renew the lease for four consecutive five-year terms.

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