Las Vegas Sun

November 18, 2017

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Core sampling begins on proposed stadium site

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Mick Akers / Las Vegas Sun

Workers survey land on Russell Road near the Strip where a $1.9 billion football stadium is proposed for the Oakland Raiders and UNLV football.

One of the first steps in the process of building the proposed Las Vegas Raiders stadium has been taking place this week.

Nova Geotechnical and Elite Drilling Inc. have conducted core sampling at the Raiders’ preferred 63-acre site on Russell Road just west of Interstate 15, for which the team has an option in place to buy. Core sampling tests the soil and other natural elements.

Although representatives of the companies weren’t allowed to speak with media, per the Raiders’ request, Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, who visited the site on Friday, gave some insight.

“It shows the Raiders and the NFL’s commitment,” Sisolak said. “They’re not backing down at all. They’re out there getting to work right away, getting things done out there.”

The core sampling is the initial process of the land survey, Sisolak says, and what the Raiders discover will impact the price of the project.

“It’s due diligence on the land,” he said. “They got to check the development cost, and that is going to be directly attributed to what they run into. If there’s caliche (a sedimentary rock), it’s going to cost a lot more. If you buy the property assuming you’re not going to get any caliche and you hit some 4 feet down, you’re spending millions of dollars to take that out of there.”

In addition to what’s found in the composition, what lies beneath also must be studied.

“There are some earthquake faults on that property, but they are not of any significant issue. They are looking at it I’m sure because it shows up on the seismology maps,” Sisolak said.

Sisolak said that the Mandalay Bay Convention Center across Interstate 15 is also built on fault lines.

“They’re small. It’s not an issue — not a concern. They’re aware of them, and you got to take extra steps and that’s what they’re doing. They’ll make this the safest, most technologically advanced building you're going to see.”

Aside from the operations on the land itself, Sisolak said that the team is also hard at work on the agreements and other aspects needed to get the construction design-and-build process moving.

“They are proceeding with the lease development with the Stadium Authority, and the development and impact agreements with the county. They’ve got a lot of people working,” he said. “They’ve been in contact, and they have a lot of meetings set up. I’m just very pleased with their commitment and their eagerness to move forward.”

Sisolak said he is confident that those agreements will be completed soon, but he wasn’t sure if they’d be finished before the next Las Vegas Stadium Authority meeting on April 20.

“They’re going to get it done. How quickly they’re going to get it done, I don’t know,” he said. “A lot of this takes a lot of time. You don’t know what obstacles you’re going to run into along the way. They continue to move forward. That’s how you win football games and that's how you build stadiums, so they’re doing them both.”

The fact that the Raiders have crews on the possible stadium site the same week that NFL owners approved the relocation shows the team is anxious and working toward having the stadium ready to go on time, according to Sisolak.

“It’s a tight timeline — 32 months. Backing away from August 2020, that gets us until December of this year to break ground,” he said. “By the end of the year we’ve got to have them out there getting to work on the property. They know that and they're committed to that, and they got to take it step by step.”

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