First meeting since NFL vote: Stadium Authority to work on details

Illustrations of a 65,000-seat stadium. (Pictures courtesy of MANICA Architecture)

Local 872'S leader, Tommy White, showed me his union's newest ride.

“So we're going to go: One side is going to be UNLV Rebel football team, and the other side is going to be the Raiders,” White told me outside his union office in Las Vegas as we walked toward what was parked in back: a retired firetruck.

“It’s a ’94,” White said.

It’s got 12 wheels with a 100-foot ladder, and a real split personality, showcasing – depending on what side you see – the two major tenants of Las Vegas’ soon-to-be-built stadium.

It’s a rolling reminder that no union pushed harder for a stadium and the 19,000 construction jobs it will bring.

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“We have a lot of our retired members that actually want to come back to work,” says White, who, besides running the union, also sits on the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, which will own and oversee the stadium on behalf of the public. It meets Thursday.

On the agenda will be items dealing with potential vendors, getting a report on the sale of personal seat licenses, which allow fans to buy season tickets, and other mundane but necessary tasks the Authority must wade through.

There should also be discussion about a lease, which will spell out the terms for the two tenants – the Raiders and the Rebels. Negotiations between the authority and the Raiders have been going on in the background for weeks.

“I think we should have a draft tomorrow. I think we should probably have more construction plans on what the stadium is actually going to look like – some more renderings,” White said.

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Raiders officials will also be in attendance for the first authority meeting since March 27, when the NFL officially made Las Vegas a pro-football city. One of the agenda items is receiving a status report on the NFL stadium project.

“I think they'll be a few moments of celebration because this is our first meeting since the owners voted to actually allow the Raiders to come to Las Vegas,” says former Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones Blackhurst, now a top executive with Caesars Entertainment. She’s also a Stadium Authority member.

One issue to be determined: Do the Raiders pay rent? The $1 in the first draft lease raised some eyebrows.

“I think we're going to need to factor how important the arena is to us and how much the Raiders are also bringing to the table,” Jones Blackhurst says, referring to the $1 billion-plus the team and the NFL are providing. Taxpayers – in the form of higher room taxes – are paying $750 million.

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As for whether Raiders’ rent is necessary, “I think that’s a discussion for the board,” says Jones Blackhurst.

The higher room tax went into effect March 1, already raising approximately $4.6 million. It’s expected to raise almost $15 million for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, and almost $50 million next year.

AT Local 872's training center, union members who want work say the stadium will be a real boost.

“I’m definitely looking forward to possibly working on a project like that,” says 872’s Al Nichols, who moved to Las Vegas from Chicago six years ago. The long-term job security appeals to him.

Pride is another benefit, he tells me.

“Once it’s finished, to drive by and say I had a hand in helping build that thing over there,” he says.

The Raiders hope to break ground by the end of the year.

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