Las Vegas Sun

December 16, 2018

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Raiders, Walters discuss Bali Hai for stadium parking

Team still looking at nearby golf course for cars, tailgating

Bali Hai

AARON MAYES / Las Vegas Sun / Sun File Photo

Golfers play the 7,002-yard, par-71 Bali Hai Golf Club on the Las Vegas Strip.

At its pop culture origin, Bali Hai translates roughly to a mystical perfect island seen by many as off limits.

That’s pretty much what Bali Hai is to the Raiders and their stadium parking needs, as well: ideal but inaccessible. Despite a thicket of complicating factors, the team is negotiating with representatives of Bali Hai Golf Club lessee Billy Walters to take over his lease with Clark County so it can turn the site into its parking and tailgating hub.

“I don’t know if it’s the exclusive option. It’s clearly a great option. I think it’s been a great option all along. With the proximity to the stadium site, it would be an ideal site,” Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said today. “It’s a complicated issue because of the BLM dealings and Mr. Walters’ lease. We’ve got a lot of moving parts in that one.”

Acting as the Zoning Board, the County Commission unanimously approved the Raiders stadium development agreement today. Within that document, the team agrees to $1.3 million in fire and safety upgrades for the stadium area requested by the county for the 65,000-seat stadium, which is expected to be ready by July 2020.

Missing from the agreement is a finalized plan to create nearly 14,000 parking spaces required by county code that the team’s 62-acre stadium site cannot accommodate. The Raiders have until September to present the county with a plan that includes acquired or leased land solely dedicated to stadium parking on event days.

Long seen as the Raiders’ perfect solution to the parking-poor stadium plot they purchased across Interstate 15, Bali Hai could accommodate 13,000 of those needed spaces if converted. A Raiders study from July notes that a runway protection zone for McCarran International Airport allows only 90 of the site’s 155 acres to be used for parking.

The primary issue slowing negotiations is a pending federal lawsuit against the county that demands $75 million in past and future underpaid rent on the Bali Hai land. Clark County obtained the land from the Bureau of Land Management in 1998 and leased a portion to Walters in a deal seen by many as favorable to the developer.

Under the terms of the 100-year agreement, Walters paid no rent for years because the course did not turn a profit before a series of amendments led to a $100,000 annual payment. The BLM contends the fair market value of the land far exceeds the rent collected thus far and per its future schedule with Walters.

“Bali Hai was one that never generated any money for anybody. Golf took a tailspin and it just didn’t turn the money that was hoped for,” Sisolak said.

Sisolak said the county continues to discuss the situation with the BLM and the Department of Justice. Until the sides agree on how much rent is owed, parameters of a deal for the Raiders to assume Walters’ lease would be difficult to achieve.

“It’s just sometimes the BLM is not quite as agreeable as some other partners might be, but we’re working on it,” Sisolak said. “That’s more of a county-BLM issue than it is a Raiders-Walters issue.”

The other major factor is Walters himself. Sentenced last year to five years in prison for his role in an insider trading arrangement, Walters must leave the negotiations to his representatives via his company, The Walters Group. According to Sisolak, the county wants to resolve its legal situation with the federal government to allow the Raiders to obtain the Bali Hai site.

“They’re working diligently on the parking, and I’ve been in a lot of those meetings,” Sisolak said. “It’s a lot more complicated than some people understand, because you’ve got the BLM and the Department of Justice involved with the county as it relates to the lawsuit. It’s going to take some time, but we’re working on it.”

Raiders stadium consultant Don Webb declined an interview request following today’s meeting.