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Economy & Business | Legislature

Raiders to Vegas: I'll buy that for a dollar

Photo rendering courtesy of MANICA Architecture.

If the Oakland Raiders get their way, they will be paying less in annual stadium rent than it will cost fans to buy a bag of peanuts at a game.

They also want control over the scheduling of UNLV football games, suite holders to be booted for major sports playoff events, “absolute priority and decision making authority” for the facility, and “exclusive right to contract for and receive all revenue from” naming rights for the stadium and adjoining plaza.

The team delivered its proposal for a $1 annual rental fee and an extensive wish list Thursday to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority  in the form of a 117-page stadium agreement that’s only a draft so far. It must be ratified by the nine-member panel.  

The lengthy and detailed document provides a glimpse into the team’s desires as it prepares for a possible move to Las Vegas..

Last week, the Raiders filed paperwork with the NFL to relocate the team to the desert following a year of public meetings and a special legislative session, where Nevada lawmakers approved a public financing plan worth $750 million. What’s still ongoing: negotiations between the Raiders, who would benefit from a $200 million loan from the NFL and $300 million raised from personal seat licenses,  and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who originally proposed the stadium project and pledged to invest $650 million in its construction, but is now locked in negotiations with the team over some of the items on its wish list.

Raiders officials were visiting with Adelson after the Stadium Authority meeting today, said Andy Abboud, senior vice president of government relations and community development for the Las Vegas Sands Corp. Adelson is president and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, the company that owns the Venetian and Palazzo casinos as well as other properties worldwide. Adelson also owns The Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Steve Hill, who chairs the Stadium Authority, expressed confidence that the Raiders would wind up in Las Vegas regardless of any possible partnerships with Adelson.

“Goldman Sachs has agreed to provide the financing for the Raiders for the stadium,” he said after the meeting. “If they have partners involved, then that would diminish some of the need for that financing, but the Raiders have made it clear that regardless of who their partners are or aren’t, they are going to move forward and are capable of moving forward.”

The Raiders’ president, Marc Badain, attended the Stadium Authority meeting, along with Dan Ventrelle, the team’s executive vice president/general counsel. Badain said the NFL owners would likely vote on the team’s relocation bid the last week of March.

Submitting a draft of the stadium use agreement is a significant step in that journey, although there’s no deadline for its completion or approval by the board, Ventrelle said.

“The representation of progress it shows everybody is important,” he said.

The stadium use agreement, which would be effective for 30 years, outlines everything from facility use and scheduling to naming rights and parking. Among the highlights:

  • The Raiders would pay the Stadium Authority $1 annually to rent the facility. The document submitted said the single-digit sum is because the team made a “substantial investment in the magnitude of hundreds of millions of dollars for the acquisition of the Stadium site land, construction of the Stadium, and infrastructure related to the Stadium,” according to the use agreement draft.
  • The Stadium Authority cannot schedule or allow UNLV football games at the stadium unless it has consulted with the Raiders and the team has provided consent.
  • The Raiders would have “absolute priority and decision making authority” related to the field at all times, including field markings and decorations, among other aspects. The team would use “reasonable efforts” to support collegiate field markings.
  • Annual suite licensees would not be allowed to occupy the suites for the following events: the Super Bowl, college football playoff or National Championship games, NCAA Final Four basketball games, NCAA basketball preliminary rounds and non-basketball NCAA championships, a major national political convention and not more than three “promoter Qualified Authority Events held annually.” Licensees for naming rights suites would not be allowed to occupy the suites during the Super Bowl, college football playoff or National Championship games, NCAA Final Four basketball games or a major national political convention. Selling tickets to occupy suites during those “blackout events” would be subject to specific agreements for each event.
  • The Raiders would have the “exclusive right to contract for and receive all revenue from, and bear all costs associated with contracting for, the grant, licensing, and sublicensing of any and all Naming Rights.” That includes names for both the stadium and any plaza.

Abboud did not immediately return requests for comment about the Raiders’ desires as outlined in the stadium use agreement. Hill said he hadn’t perused the document yet, but he expects the board to discuss it during a February meeting.

In other business, the board on Thursday approved a $450,000 contract for legal services with two firms — Andrews Kurth Kenyon, based in Houston, and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, a local firm. The two law firms will work together to provide legal representation for the Stadium Authority.

The vote followed a request for qualifications and then a request for proposals. “They were all exceptional firms,” Hill said. “It was not an easy choice to make.”

Hill also addressed concerns about whether the board violated terms of the state’s Open Meeting Law when the seven initial members told staff their preferences for the final two members outside of a public meeting.

The board did not violate any laws, Hill said, but he apologized to board members for “implementing a process” that created the appearance of such.

“I know all of us want to not only follow the letter of the Open Meeting Law, but we want that compliance to be without question,” he said.

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