Las Vegas Sun

July 18, 2018

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Raiders stadium community benefits deal comes to the fore


L.E. Baskow

Many Oakland Raiders fans gather to hear their third-day draft picks from the Welcome to Las Vegas sign complete with Gov. Brian Sandoval and others on Saturday, April 29, 2017.

Most of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority’s work slowed considerably by its own choice Thursday, but a key document under its watch moved closer to completion despite some lingering concerns.

Despite voting to allow itself an additional six months to complete required project documents related to the Raiders stadium in Las Vegas, the authority board received the most substantive update to date on the oft-discussed community benefits plan mandated by Senate Bill 1. That legislation authorized Nevada’s $750 million commitment of public funds to the $1.9 billion project and created the stadium authority that oversees its development.

“I think it’s getting to the right place,” Raiders President Marc Badain said. “I hope it’s at the next meeting. I think we’ll be able to present something by next month.”

As outlined in the law, the community benefits plan contains few details and charges the Raiders with constructing a document that ensures diverse communities participate in the design, construction and operation of the stadium. The legislation also contains a provision requiring that small businesses comprise 15 percent of subcontractors selected to work on the project, which is separate from the community benefits plan.

“The goals for community benefits plan are to be negotiated, but the 15 percent is the law,” said Steve Hill, chairman of the stadium authority board. “Those two concepts at times have the ability to be in competition with one another. That competition is what has required additional research.”

Board staff lead Jeremy Aguero presented the conceptual sketch of the plan at Thursday’s meeting. Raiders representatives have worked over the past few months with state Sen. Aaron Ford — an original architect of the plan during the legislative proceedings — and a handful of community groups to develop a broad outline of hiring goals and training programs, as well as community outreach to be performed by the team.

The six-month extension of its timeline approved at the meeting by the stadium authority board pushes back the timeline for approving most of what remains outstanding among the dozen necessary agreements to construct the stadium. The unexpected delay materialized because the Raiders and construction companies Mortensen and McCarthy discovered they cannot complete their contract until a guaranteed maximum price on the stadium can be obtained. Because of the evolving design-build nature of the stadium's construction, nailing down a final cost at this stage is not possible, according to Raiders and authority officials.

Most notable among the delays is the development agreement governing construction, which now will not be considered until February. Badain pointed to the annual league owners meeting in March as the intended backstop for the board pushing back its timeline, allowing the league to review anything at its gathering if needed.

“If you go back to when the legislation was passed, that was one thing that we talked about — to make sure that nobody had a gun to their head on this,” Badain said.

The community benefits plan, though, likely needs to be completed on a tighter timeline because stadium construction is scheduled to begin in late November and it involves construction plans. Hill said there is a “pretty significant opportunity” for the board to review a final version of the plan at its October meeting, although the authority does not have the power to approve or reject it.

The bill requires an oversight committee to ensure the implementation of the plan. The draft recommends a seven-member volunteer panel including two appointees from the stadium authority, two from the governor’s office and three from the Raiders. Hill said the public bodies would maintain a voting majority by design.

Board member Ken Evans requested consideration of including representatives of specific community organizations on the oversight committee. Evans said his discussions with the Raiders and Ford led him to believe that would be the design of the panel.

“There was a spirit and intent there that we’ll still need to figure out how to fold that in,” Evans said.

The authority board next meets Oct. 12 at the Clark County Government Center.

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