Stadium Authority Board meets; Hard part comes next

Clark County Stadium Authority Board Chairman Steve Hill speaks Monday, December 5, 2016, at the Stan Fulton Building on the UNLV campus in Las Vegas. (Jeff Gillan/KSNV)

The Stadium Authority Board met for the first time Monday, the nine-member body that will be the public’s representative owning and overseeing the proposed $1.9 billion dollar NFL-ready stadium the Raiders would like to call home.

There’s no team yet. The Raiders plan to make their formal application to the league to move to Las Vegas at the NFL’s winter meeting next month.

“What I’ll be looking for as a member of this board is to make sure that we do the things necessary to produce a quality, world-class facility,” says authority board member Ken Evans, the President of the Urban Chamber of Commerce.

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The board is a mix of resort representatives, labor, civic leaders and the public; three were chosen by the Governor, three by the County Commission, one from UNLV, and the public members will be chosen by the existing seven-member panel.

The first meeting was largely housekeeping, getting a briefing on Nevada’s open meeting law, and learning the bullet-points of the legislation which approved the funding for the stadium, and the panel to run it.

The hard part comes next: hammering out the deals essential to making sure the project happens.

“If they are ready to start that conversation by the 15th, we’ll have the meeting on the 15th,” Steve Hill, Stadium Authority Board Chairman, told me, referring to upcoming discussions with the developers – the Raiders and billionaire Sheldon Adelson. “Working through the operating agreement in the stadium and development agreement are really the first major responsibilities that the board has,” Hill added.

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The Raiders and Adelson are pitching in $1.15 billion of the estimated $1.9 billion dollar cost; the remainder comes from the public, in the form of higher room taxes, which stadium supporters say would be paid mostly by tourists. Backers of the stadium say the public is protected.

“The proceeds from that room tax that have to be allocated to that bond are not just the amount there for principal and interest. They have to be 150% of the amount that’s there for principal and interest,” says stadium authority consultant Jeremy Aguerro. “That means that in the event that the economy was to turn down and room taxes were to be there, we would have to have a drop greater than the Great Recession in order for those room taxes to be insufficient to make those bond payments.”

Room taxes are boosted by .88% to fund $750 million in public funding. (The bill, passed in special session in October, also raises the room tax to pay for an expansion and renovation of the Las Vegas Convention Center.)

Under the legislation, signed by the Governor on October 17th, the developer - the Raiders – have 12 months to get a deal from the NFL to come here. If on October 17, 2017, there’s no deal, the stadium authority board can opt for a six-month extension. When that expires on April 17, 2018, any room taxes collected are redirected to fund a smaller UNLV stadium. The university would then have two years to raise $200 million in private funds to make the project happen.

Two sites have been in the mix for a possible Raiders stadium: the Bali Hai golf course on Las Vegas Boulevard, and the Raiders’ preferred site, 60+ acres across I-15 on Russell Road.

Monday, a 3rd site was floated by developer Fred Nassiri: his 60+ acres on Blue Diamond by Las Vegas Boulevard.

“It actually will be much cheaper, hundreds of millions of dollars cheaper than Russell Road because of all the infrastructure they have to build for that,” Nassiri told me at today’s meeting.

This board doesn't pick sites. It approves them.

“I'd be surprised if the board did not approve the site at Russell Road,” says board chairman Steve Hill.

And that site sits, waiting for a stadium, and waiting for a team.

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