Las Vegas Sun

September 24, 2017

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In stadium talks, Raiders see UNLV campus as a solution for game-day parking

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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.

The Raiders want UNLV to help them solve their stadium parking problems by providing thousands of on-campus spaces for free, according to documents viewed this week by the Sun.

The team recently submitted to university officials its first draft of the 30-year joint-use agreement required by state legislation. The final document will govern how the Raiders and UNLV football share the publicly funded $1.9 billion stadium beginning in 2020. An initial meeting between the sides last month preceded this draft and a negotiating session based on the proposal could take place within the next two weeks, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

Within the draft, the Raiders ask UNLV to use nearly 80 acres of its 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 Raiders propose no payment to the university for using the land beyond net revenues from parking fees during home games, NFL events and any other event for which at least 30,000 tickets are available.

A study conducted last month on behalf of the Raiders showed the stadium site holds just 15 percent of parking required by Clark County code for a 65,000-seat facility. The Thomas & Mack lot alone contains 4,000 spaces, well more than the 2,400 on-site spots expected on the team’s 62-acre lot at Russell Road near Interstate 15. Yet the UNLV campus sits more than three miles from the Raiders stadium site, meaning fans would need to shuttle from the university.

The parking request by the Raiders stands out among other proposals included in the draft, which was compiled by the team with input from university officials:

• Field: Establishing home-field advantage on game days tops the negotiation wish list of UNLV representatives, and the Raiders’ initial proposal appears favorable to the Rebels.

The Raiders will provide UNLV with either a grass or artificial field for its games at their own cost. While the team retains the right to choose the type of surface, the draft also suggests the Raiders will let the Rebels pick, echoing statements made last week by UNLV President Len Jessup. The Raiders plan to maintain and operate whichever field is selected.

The draft suggests that if UNLV wants a grass field, it might share that surface with the Raiders. The draft language would require UNLV to clear off any Rebels-related field markings prior to the next Raiders home game. If the Rebels want artificial turf, they would have their own field and could keep their markings at all times. The Raiders also propose to replace the turf within a normal life cycle at their own cost.

• Luxury suites, club seating and ticketing: Expected windfall revenues from premium seating in a state-of-the-art stadium helped drive the Raiders from Oakland to Las Vegas. The Raiders want to control suites and high-end amenities as much as possible.

The franchise proposes to maintain the 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 receive 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. Why the club seating price would apply to the suites is not explained in the document.

Any suites not sold within these packages by the Raiders would become available for UNLV to sell for its games. The university could keep all revenue from these sales. What remains unclear is what suite inventory would remain for the Rebels, who are counting on premium seating to drive revenue just as the Raiders are. The Raiders also want UNLV to consent to including Rebels football tickets in all personal seat license packages sold by the franchise.

The team wants to retain control of offerings and pricing for luxury-suite amenities, and also proposes giving two complimentary suites per Rebels game to UNLV.

• Scheduling: This issue first attracted attention in the team’s January stadium lease draft and it returns now with much more detail.

The Raiders want scheduling priority for any home games, NFL events, and other major events put on the calendar each year before UNLV finalizes its schedule. UNLV could lock in two nonconference games per year up to three years in advance, which conforms with typical scheduling practice at the college level.

The team also suggests cutting off any UNLV events at least 12 hours before a Raiders home game. A typical West Coast start time for a Sunday NFL game is 1 p.m., which should allow UNLV to finish even a later Saturday night game in time to change over the stadium for the Raiders on a shared weekend.

In terms of stadium access, the Raiders want to give UNLV an exclusive window four hours before and three hours after each Rebels home game.

• Advertising: This draft presents advertising challenges for the university. UNLV wants access to as much game-day inventory as it can get while the Raiders propose tight control of ad placement and sales.

UNLV could sell temporary advertising like on-field signs and electronic ribbon boards for its game days, if it does not interfere with fixed advertising and permanent signage sold by the Raiders. More potentially troubling for UNLV is the area of exclusive sponsorships. The Raiders want to protect stadium naming rights sponsors and so-called “founding partners” by preventing UNLV from selling ads to any competing companies.

The proposal would allow the team’s control to extend much farther, though, allowing the Raiders to object to certain UNLV advertising if it falls under “prohibited use” categories as defined in the team’s lease with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority. Gaming appears most likely to cause a problem in that category.

• Rent: While the Raiders will not pay rent to the stadium authority to use the stadium, UNLV will owe the team an amount equal to the cost of using the facility for each of its six home dates. The challenge lies with determining that cost for a stadium yet to be built.

Basic utility services including gas, power, hot and cold water, heating and cooling, and sewer fall into what the draft refers to as “Cost-to-Licensor.” UNLV would pay the difference in cost for these services on a Rebels game day over a non-event day. The university also would cover expenses for staffing the stadium, as well as applicable taxes and fees.

The Raiders want their designated events company to retain control of all staffing for UNLV game days. This would allow the events company to utilize the same personnel for both teams, though staffing levels could be reduced significantly for UNLV games that likely will draw less than half as many fans as Raiders games.

The joint-use agreement is one of a dozen documents that must be approved by the stadium authority board by October. That schedule will allow the Raiders to start construction before the end of the year. Before that authority board reviews the final agreement, though, the Nevada Board of Regents must sign off on it as well.

Senate Bill 1, the state legislation approved last October authorizing the use of $750 million in room-tax money to build the stadium, requires the Raiders to share the facility with UNLV as a condition of receiving the funds.

UNLV and Raiders officials did not respond to requests for comment.

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