Las Vegas Sun

September 15, 2019

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In their own words: What’s new with Raiders stadium and practice facility


John Locher / AP

A man celebrates the move of the Raiders to Las Vegas by holding a Raiders sign, Monday, March 27, 2017, in Las Vegas.

With most of their major agreements moving toward completion after a frenetic December, the Raiders enjoyed an uneventful two-hour meeting Thursday with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority board.

The board pushed back a planned vote on its appointee to the seven-member oversight panel for the Raiders community benefits plan. That decision removed the only major action item on the agenda, which consisted largely of updates on the UNLV joint-use document and Clark County development agreement.

We took the opportunity to update a few pressing items in the sphere of the stadium project:

Are the Raiders really buying the Billy Walters lease on the Bali Hai Golf Club to solve their parking problems?

The Sun reported last week that the team and representatives of the famed developer and sports bettor are discussing the site directly across the freeway from the stadium site. A Raiders study from this summer showed Bali Hai could be converted to offer up to 13,000 spaces, alleviating the team’s significant shortage of on-site parking.

For the latest, we’ll turn it over to Raiders President Marc Badain: “There’s been some progress on it. When we have something to announce on it, we will, but it’s one of a number of options that can help solve some of the parking issues associated with the site.”

Why did the Raiders choose Henderson for their headquarters and practice facility?

The franchise will call Henderson home after agreeing to a deal to purchase from the city a site near its executive airport. Henderson is using a Nevada statute designed to encourage economic development to sell the Raiders the land for just more than $6 million — or half the appraised value of the parcel.

Again, the Raiders president: “We looked all over the valley. We looked at a number of different properties, in Henderson, Summerlin, all across the 215 corridor, downtown, North Las Vegas, even as far out as where the Speedway is. We just wanted to make sure it was an area that provided enough land for our facility, enough land for some growth in the future. And it was also somewhere where the players and the coaches and the staff could find a place to raise their families.”

“Henderson reached out and they were very aggressive in terms of expressing a desire to have us come there. They were great to work with and it made a lot of sense with all they have planned for that area, that western Henderson area near the freeway. It made a lot of sense for the organization.”

Asked if Henderson’s financial incentive trumped other potential deals, Badain said, “It’s going to be great for the city with all the jobs it’s going to bring there, and all the development it’s going to bring on that site. I think both sides will benefit.

“There were plenty of options out there. I think it’s going to be great for us and great for the city.”

Badain characterized the timeline for the headquarters and practice complex as “a few months behind” and said the team would break ground in the near future.

Why did UNLV need to spend more than $180,000 on outside lawyers to protect its interests in negotiating with the Raiders?

After receiving an aggressive initial joint-use agreement offer from the Raiders in July, UNLV retained heavy-hitting New York attorney Daniel Etna to represent the university at a cost of $745 per hour.

The university unquestionably improved its circumstances from the first offer to the final document, a development credited to Etna and Mandy Shavinsky of Snell & Wilmer. UNLV spent $189,179 on that outside counsel through Dec. 21.

Authority board chairman Steve Hill oversaw the forerunner to the stadium authority and participated in the development of Senate Bill 1, which in part traded public stadium funding for UNLV’s use of the $1.8 billion stadium for its football program.

Hill responded to a question of whether UNLV should have had to spend that sum in its quest for a deal that state legislators set up for the school’s benefit: “The law is fairly nondetailed framework. Frankly, like I pointed out, some of what UNLV was looking to accomplish in that agreement was outside of the law. When you look at the law, the Raiders basically had negotiated all the way through that and earned that right that they were willing to relinquish part of.

“It’s a complicated agreement. Having the experience of (Etna) in that conversation was well worth it for UNLV. They’re not cheap but they’re worth it.”

How did the Raiders and the authority move from struggle to compromise in just two months?

An icy November meeting underscored tension between the team and the authority, largely focused on the community benefits plan and then-stalled UNLV negotiations.

Both sides credit a December meeting with Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak for advancing talks. Only an overall development agreement between the Raiders and authority remains outstanding among key documents.

“In any negotiation, particularly one as complex as this, you’re going to be coming at this myriad of issues at times from different perspectives and it can get tense,” Hill said. “But I think both parties want to make sure this works and are working in good faith to make that happen. It doesn’t mean we always start from a position that we agree what that end line looks like.”