Upcoming Raiders vote could forever change Las Vegas tourism landscape

Updated March 25, 2017 - 9:53 pm

Southern Nevada is on the verge of history this week with a vote that could forever change Las Vegas’ tourism landscape.

When NFL owners gather in Phoenix beginning Monday, they’re expected to consider a vote to relocate the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas. It’s a move that would enable the Las Vegas Stadium Authority to sign agreements with a developer and an events company for a new public venue that not only would house football games involving the Raiders and UNLV, but also large special events for which Las Vegas has become famous.

Make no mistake about it, having the NFL in Las Vegas is a remarkable achievement by those who accomplished that. Solving UNLV’s stadium dilemma — replacing a home field that’s eight miles away from campus with a closer state-of-the-art building — is appealing for the long-term health of UNLV’s athletics program.

But local residents shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that they’re getting a new events center out of the deal. It may say “Raiders Stadium” on the stunning renderings the team provided to the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee when relocating the Raiders to Las Vegas was first proposed, but this is a public asset through and through.

That Las Vegas is what it is makes this stadium deal different from all others.

Assuming the NFL does this week what we’re expecting it to do, the condition that a team will be in Las Vegas will be met and a development deal to build what’s anticipated to be a 65,000-seat, $1.9 billion stadium would begin.

We’re all assuming the developer would be the Raiders or an affiliate of the team. Once a development deal is in place, the land on which the stadium will stand will be acquired and turned over to the Stadium Authority and the Raiders/developers will spend the first $100 million on construction.

Then, the public’s $750 million would be tapped, then the rest would fall to the developers. Everything else, including cost overruns, falls to the developer.

Meanwhile, a lease agreement will be drafted with an events company. Again, we’re assuming that to be the Raiders or an affiliate. It could be a third-party company that specializes in managing venues.

That’s where it will get interesting for Las Vegans.

Yes, there will be eight Raiders home games and two exhibition games. Yes, UNLV will play its home games there and get dates for events like graduations.

Then come the things we’ve become famous for and are well-equipped to accommodate large crowds.

The Las Vegas Bowl. Neutral-site college football games. Concerts by big-time performers big enough to draw stadium crowds. The Super Bowl. A massive UFC or boxing ticket. World-class soccer exhibitions. The NCAA basketball Final Four. National political conventions.

Get ready, special events organizers.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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