Las Vegas Sun

August 24, 2017

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The pace has accelerated’: Sides eye May 23 deadline for finalizing Raiders lease

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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.

Lease negotiations between the Raiders and the Las Vegas Stadium Authority have intensified in the past few days as NFL owners set a soft deadline of May 23 for approving the document.

League owners will gather in Chicago on that date for spring meetings, and they want to bless the Raiders lease because they will not gather again until fall. Authority board chairman Steve Hill confirmed the NFL’s request to approve the lease in May.

“We’re going to do what we can to get the lease basically in final form by then, if it’s possible,” Hill said. “We told the Raiders we’ll do everything we can to make that happen.”

It remains unclear what would happen if the sides can't come to terms on the 30-year lease and it's not sent to the league by that date. Both sides acknowledge little margin for error in the next three years to construct and open the 65,000-seat domed stadium in time for the 2020 NFL season.

“Getting this done is more important to (the Raiders) than we initially thought,” Hill said. “The pace has accelerated.”

The Raiders and the authority already faced a tight timeline for completing a dozen required documents including the lease by the end of September. A timeline published last week by the authority allowed at least four months and set a self-imposed deadline of Oct. 1 for completing the lease and its 11 accompanying documents. That schedule ultimately would result in the stadium opening in June 2020, just two months before the Raiders’ first preseason game.

“I met with both sides today and they are working as hard as humanly possible,” Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said.

Authority staff Jeremy Aguero and Raiders representatives, including President Marc Badain and executive counsel Dan Ventrelle, huddled Wednesday in Las Vegas in advance of Thursday’s authority board meeting. Along with Hill, the group has met throughout the week in an attempt to speed progress on a few major sticking points in the lease negotiation. Those issues focus on control of stadium events, and on how payment for capital expenditures on stadium repairs and improvements would be handled.

Senate Bill 1, the state legislation approved in October authorizing $750 million in taxpayer funding toward the stadium, gives the Raiders and their designated events company close to total autonomy over what happens inside the facility. Authority staff want to ensure the $1.9 billion stadium holds enough events to meet projected tourism revenues that justify Nevada’s public investment.

The Raiders and the authority also must settle on how capital improvements are funded. Both sides will set aside money each year, but Hill said at the board’s last meeting in April that more clarity is needed on how those funds will be allocated when they are needed.

Hill does not anticipate the board voting on the lease at Thursday’s meeting. He plans to review the outstanding issues and go back into negotiations with board input. The authority board already scheduled a May 22 meeting for approving its budget and Hill said another meeting could be called for late next week to sign off on the lease if it is ready by then.

Raiders representatives did not return requests for comment. An NFL spokesperson declined to confirm that the Raiders lease will be addressed at the meeting.

“There are several club matters on the agenda,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Wednesday.

The authority board meets at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Clark County Government Center.

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