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Raiders highlight Thursday agenda, but no quick action possible

Those National Football League fans hoping to get a definitive resolution on whether the Oakland Raiders are Las Vegas bound will likely be disappointed with the outcome of today’s Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee meeting.

Aside from the delivery of a few promises that might not be able to be kept, portions of the meeting of the 11-member committee formed by Gov. Brian Sandoval look to be a series of presentations and question-and-answer sessions involving the partnership that is proposing a 65,000-seat, $1.3 billion domed stadium.

While the stadium proposal brought by Las Vegas Sands and Majestic Realty has grabbed all the headlines, and reports of appearances by Raiders owner Mark Davis and soccer legend David Beckham on behalf of the stadium have been the focal point of public attention, the reality is that the stadium proposal is just one portion of the meeting that is expected to last most of the day.

Also on the agenda for the meeting at the Stan Fulton Building, on the southeast corner of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street, is a discussion about the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s proposed expansion and upgrade to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The to-do list for that project includes securing the funding for at least $1.4 billion in improvements above what’s already been paid for in the acquisition and demolition of the shuttered Riviera property to clear the way for new construction.

Discussion also is planned on transportation and mass transit proposals. While several key transportation leaders are advocating the development of light rail, particularly a route that would link McCarran International Airport with the Strip and downtown Las Vegas, Clark County announced it is diving into the design of an elevated expressway that would expedite auto traffic between the airport and the Strip, hugging the site of the proposed stadium.

The expressway proposal has been attacked by numerous urban planners as a 20th century solution to the 21st century problem on how to move large volumes of people from the airport to the city’s largest hubs of activity.

Don’t expect the committee to choose what’s most important among those three tourism needs by the end of the meering today. That’s a discussion more likely to occur at the committee’s May and June meetings.

While Davis may promise that his Raiders would come to Las Vegas if a stadium is built, it’s a promise he may not be able to deliver unless 24 of the 32 NFL owners concur with the plan. Some old-school owners have shown reluctance to committing to Las Vegas because of the NFL’s longstanding policy against mixing football with gambling.

There’s also the matter of getting the stadium built. The Sands and Majestic team is expected to lay out prospective funding scenarios based on what other cities have done to build their own venues.

The team has said in the past and documents filed in advance of the meeting view a stadium as a community tourism asset that’s necessary to compete with rival cities.

Proponents say the stadium would work with or without an NFL tenant. A draft report projects 46 stadium events, including 10 NFL games, two preseason and eight regular season.

Planners say there would be six UNLV games, two college bowl games, and two neutral-site college football games.

Based on the experience of other stadiums, proponents expect the rest of the calendar to be filled with rugby, mixed martial arts, boxing, Supercross and Monster Jam motorsports events, and maybe even the NFL’s Pro Bowl and Super Bowl games.

The committee is expected to review and discuss some of the unique funding sources that occur in stadiums across the country, including Texas’ Brimer Bill and Events Trust Fund, Florida’s Sports Development Incentive program, and Allentown, Pennsylvania’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone.

Proponents also are presenting a comparison of lodging tax rates across the country which show how low Las Vegas is by comparison — an indication that a proposal may be in the works to raise the tax rate that tourists pay on motel and hotel rooms and car rentals.

Las Vegas’ current rate is 12 percent. Rates range from 12.5 percent in Orlando, Florida, to 17 percent in Houston.

If the funding pot is expanded, there could be more money available for a stadium, the convention center and transportation and transit projects.

That’s a recommendation the committee could make, but not approve on its own. That would become the responsibility of the Nevada Legislature, which doesn’t meet until February, unless the governor calls a special session.

More than likely, he wouldn’t do that until he has reviewed the committee’s report, which isn’t due until the end of July.

The stadium discussion will be broadcast live via the Review-Journal’s Facebook page, facebook.com/reviewjournal around 8:30 a.m.

The Review-Journal is owned by a limited liability corporation owned by the family of Sands chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

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

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