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July 26, 2017

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UNLV’s game-day rent, field markings among scores of still-unsettled issues with Raiders

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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.

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 »

The bulleted list in tiny print stretches four pages, listing 119 potential issues in a stadium-use negotiation between UNLV and the Raiders.

Even that does not encompass the universe of what the team and the university might encounter in deciding how they will share the new 65,000-seat stadium, Las Vegas Stadium Authority staff said last week.

Jeremy Aguero of Applied Analysis leads the authority staff and created the document. Aguero compiled initial requests made by UNLV and the Raiders, combining those wants with matters covered in shared-use negotiations between colleges and NFL teams elsewhere.

Raiders officials met recently with university representatives for an initial discussion of the UNLV Joint-Use Agreement, as it formally is known. UNLV leaders remain anxious to receive a first draft of that document from the franchise. Aguero said last week he anticipates authority board members will see a version of the draft before their July 13 meeting.

“There is a pretty solid shared understanding of what that agreement will look like,” Stadium Authority board Chairman Steve Hill said.

Understanding lives far from agreement, however. Discussions likely need to finish within a few weeks to allow time for the Nevada Board of Regents to review and approve the contract before the authority board considers it, among a group of contracts needing blessing by October. Regents could control the pace of progress if they object to negotiating decisions made by university officials.

Among the 119 points sit a thorny few that will require more attention:

Facility Rent and/or the Cost of Direct-Cost Chargebacks — Start with what could become the most difficult item of all: How much will the Raiders charge UNLV to play in the stadium?

Senate Bill 1, the state legislation that attached UNLV’s use of the facility as a condition of Nevada’s $750 million public contribution to the project, limits the rent to the Rebels’ actual use costs. But how do the sides determine those costs in a stadium yet to be built? Simply pinning down functional costs like air conditioning and heating could challenge negotiators.

“The calculation of figuring out what a game day costs UNLV is not a simple one because you have to keep track of so many individual things,” Hill said.

UNLV likely will pay on a per-game basis with the expectation its football team will play six home games a year.

Stadium Configuration and Required Changes during UNLV Games — No matter which UNLV official talks about the school’s needs in this negotiation, preserving a home-field advantage in a stadium controlled by the Raiders tops their concerns.

Decorations, signage, university colors and a general home-field atmosphere comprise a short list of issues for discussion. UNLV officials want prominent scarlet and gray throughout the stadium during Rebels games, from the field to the video boards.

The Raiders and their events company likely will control fixed signage throughout the facility. One example of a specific negotiating point: Will that signage remain visible during UNLV football games or will it be covered, especially if a Raiders sponsor is a competitor to one of UNLV’s partners?

“The general consensus is that almost everything in the facility will be UNLV’s during their game days,” Aguero said.

This area also broaches the question of whether UNLV will have its own artificial turf field — as it does at Sam Boyd Stadium — or if the Rebels will share a natural surface with the Raiders. Field markings clearly become a moot issue if UNLV brings its Las Vegas-themed turf up Russell Road.

Major Revenue Centers — The Raiders and UNLV have plenty to discuss with 27 potential areas listed under this heading.

Most glaring among them is the use of and revenue from luxury suites in the $1.9 billion stadium. The revenue from suites leads the NFL’s drive for new buildings throughout the country. Levi’s Stadium, the home of the San Francisco 49ers, features 170 suites selling for as much as $60,000 per game.

UNLV cannot demand such prices for its football team, of course, but the university will want access to suites for its most generous donors.

“Certainly there’s general agreement that we would be able to sell some of these VIP seats and keep the revenue,” said Gerry Bomotti, UNLV senior vice president for finance and business. “But I think part of our goal has to be, how many people do we think we can sell it to and for what cost. We have to do all that work with the athletics folks.”

Parking also falls under this category. What could become a major problem for the Raiders should not affect UNLV as drastically. The stadium site holds roughly 2,400 parking spaces, which would fall short of what’s needed for a Rebels game. UNLV wants to maximize its revenue from parking, though, as well as concession and retail sales in the stadium.

The university also will focus on the ability to advertise utilizing in-game video and ribbon boards, as well as the marquee outside the facility on game days.

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