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Lack of Las Vegas stadium lease not seen as barrier for NFL in Raiders’ move

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Christopher DeVargas

Union members show support for the proposed Las Vegas stadium at a meeting at the Clark County Government Center, Thursday, March 9, 2017.

Updated Thursday, March 9, 2017 | 10:50 p.m.

The Las Vegas Stadium Authority Meeting

Laborers Union Local 872 show their support for the new Las Vegas Stadium during a meeting at the Clark County Government Center, Thursday March 9, 2017. Launch slideshow »

Cheering union workers wearing silver-and-black Oakland Raiders helmets filled council chambers at Clark County Government Center on Thursday afternoon, a return to a lighter atmosphere of earlier meetings on bringing the National Football League to Las Vegas.

Confidence about the future of the Raiders and a proposed Las Vegas NFL stadium apparently returned to the community following Monday’s revelation that the franchise secured a $650 million commitment from Bank of America to replace the funding withdrawn by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson in January.

“Obviously (the Raiders) have some momentum on their side,” said Steve Hill, chairman of the Stadium Authority board. “We’re certainly happy about that.”

Oakland’s relocation application will be considered by NFL owners at the league’s annual meeting March 26-29 in Phoenix. If the owners decide to vote on the proposal, 24 of 32 will need to approve the move for the Raiders to end up in Las Vegas.

In addition to considering the finances of an arrangement in which the Raiders now will contribute $1.1 billion through a combination of loans and personal-seat license sales, owners will also review additional details including the lease agreement being negotiated between the board and the franchise. Hill said at Thursday’s meeting that a lease agreement could take “several months” and will not be completed before the Phoenix meeting.

The absence of a stadium lease to play in Las Vegas is not expected to impede the application.

“Certainly we are going to work expeditiously to get that lease done, but I do want to say that we’re not going to rush that process,” Hill said. “We certainly are not going to shortcut that process in any way. That’s not wise and it is not what we are going to do.”

After spending most of the week in Florida at the meeting of NFL stadium and finance committees, Raiders representatives did not attend Thursday’s meeting. Hill anticipated that would be the case, and the Raiders provided a written statement read into the record by board adviser Jeremy Aguero.

“The Raiders and Bank of America representatives confirmed that financing for the project has been secured, as the Raiders informed the Stadium Authority board at the last Stadium Authority board meeting,” the statement read in part. “The relocation issue is on pace for consideration at the annual meeting."

The Raiders presented the commitment from Bank of America referenced in the statement to the owners this week. That funding, which likely will be a large loan, effectively replaces the original investment offered and then withdrawn by Adelson after a failed negotiation with the football team.

Board counsel Mark Arnold spent most of Thursday’s meeting discussing technical issues of the draft lease agreement submitted in January by the Raiders. Arnold and Raiders attorneys have spent the weeks between the lease submission and the meeting working through issues brought up by the board in response to the initial lease proposal.

The discussion touched on the issue of shared use of the stadium between UNLV football, which would play six home games in the facility, and the Raiders. The initial lease draft gave the Raiders substantial control over the appearance and scheduling of the facility. Board member Mike Newcomb, the executive director of the Thomas & Mack Center, said university officials still see significant issues to work out between the sides.

“It’s a big concern for everyone with the university to walk into stadium and not just feel like they’re leasing it out for the day,” Newcomb said.

The other major issue discussed was ensuring that the stadium events company that operates the facility — which likely will be an offshoot of the Raiders under the current structure of the development — brings a sufficient number of events into the stadium for revenue generation. The facility will likely need to host another 30 events beyond professional and college football to meet revenue targets on which projections were built.

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