Groundbreaking over; not a moment to spare on Raiders' stadium

Steve Sisolak has his Raiders shovel on the wall, ready for stadium construction to begin. (Jeff Gillan | KSNV)

“It’s not the end of the process. It’s the beginning,” Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak told me Monday, a few hours before the Raiders broke ground on their new Las Vegas home. “Now, workers are going to get to work and they’re going to have to start building it."

With a glittering Strip bathed in dusk for a backdrop, Monday’s groundbreaking, with its poignant and touching pillar-of-light tribute to Oct .1st’s 58 lives lost, will go down in the annals of groundbreakings as one of the best ever. Now comes the hard part: putting the stadium up.

“We took 22 months to get from the idea until Monday,” Sisolak said on Thursday.

Now starts the clock to get a 65,000-seat, $2 billion dollar facility ready for opening day 2020.

Work has already started, even without the final agreements in place. Over the next three years, expect a construction workforce of nearly 19,000 to put this stadium together. It will be the home of the Raiders, UNLV’s football Rebels, and, the Raiders and Clark County hope, many concerts and events.

Earlier this summer, the builder, Mortenson McCarthy, issued a timeline.

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What's happening now is earthwork. Excavation starts in January and then the foundations get poured in March. The “elevated concrete structure” begins next April, with steel going up in September. Fast forward to March 2019, when the schedule calls for the “exterior enclosure” to begin. Two months later, the drywall and interior work begin, with what the builder calls “substantial completion” occurring in July 2020. The timeline, of course, rests on no disruptions or problems.

“The stadium is going to get done in June,” says Local 872’s Tommy White, who’s also labor’s representative on the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, the public body that will oversee this public facility.

Whether it's June or July, it's got to be ready for the preseason in August, and most definitely for the home opener in September.

“If you look, the stadium's a small part of what's going to happen. With Las Vegas, you have five or six projects that are going to go on at the same time,” White told me.

Like Resorts World, the multi-billion dollar 3,000-room resort on the Strip, or the $1.4 billion expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center, or the finishing of the just-sold Fontainebleau, which has sat dormant on the Strip for years.

It’s a lot of work, needing a lot of labor.

“We've got the labor force to build this - we've built massive hotels in this amount of time,” Sisolak says.

Referring to the stadium, he tells me, “I think you're going to see this come in on budget and ahead of schedule.”

And not a minute too soon.

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