Lots of people thought an NFL stadium in Las Vegas was a done deal after Nevada lawmakers approved $750 million in room taxes for the stadium.
Then, as it tends to happen in Las Vegas, plans got muddied.
Stadium-backer and multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson pulled out and took his $650 million with him. Public perception of the first lease proposal by the Oakland Raiders was not good.
So, with a questionable lease and no Adelson, many people began to worry if the stadium would ever happen. Now, Bank of America has stepped up with a loan to the Raiders to replace the money Adelson pulled out of the deal.
With that infusion of funding, it looks like the wheels are moving again.
The Las Vegas Stadium Authority met Thursday to start to work through a possible lease agreement.
The Stadium Authority heard in detail some of the issues to be ironed out in building a domed stadium that would be home to the NFL’s Raiders and the UNLV football team.
Texas lawyer Mark Arnold, who represents the stadium authority, laid out areas of negotiations among the authority, the Raiders, and UNLV on how to construct and run the stadium.
The $1.9 billion project would require many decisions big and small, from what the color scheme will be to setting budget priorities.
Arnold, who has represented municipalities in other stadium deals, said interests align early in the process, where there is agreement on the need for a new facility.
The 30-year lease, though, needs to address issues that arise long after construction ends. He said operators of the stadium might want investments made in revenue-generating areas, say remodeling a restaurant, while the municipalities involved could want that money spent on the parts of the stadium infrastructure the public doesn’t see.
Another important detail being discussed is the rent UNLV will pay for the stadium. At one point, it was pegged at $250,000. But Steve Hill, the chairman of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority Board and head of the governor's economic team, told KNPR's State of Nevada it won't be that high.
"When we went through the legislative process, and really at the insistence of the Legislature and to UNLV's benefit, is that they will pay just the incremental cost of operating the stadium on the days that they are at the stadium."
Hill said the core reason public money is going into the stadium is for the benefit of UNLV.
Because of the public money, the public owns the stadium but the Raiders will lease it and run it, which has some people concerned about what happens if the team can't pay for its portion of the stadium.
It was a concern Hill brushed off.
"The financial situation of the Raiders I think is solid and they'll be able to stand up to their commitments," he said.
Another question that has been raised is whether the Raiders could leave because of an 'escape clause' in the lease. Hill said that while the team could leave if the stadium is not properly maintained it is the team that will be maintaining the stadium.
And as far as capital improvements for the stadium, Hill said that will be money from the room taxes that is left over after making the bond payments.
Whatever the end result of negotiations on the lease agreement, it won't be ready before the team owners meet later this month. The team owners will be the final say on whether the Raiders can leave the Bay Area and move to Las Vegas.
Hill said he can't speak for what the owners might do but he is confident about the stadium, deal.
"I think we've put together a strong offer," he said, "And hopefully, it comes to fruition in a few weeks."
Steve Hill, Las Vegas Stadium Authority Board chairman
You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for. If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.