Laborers roar approval as Raiders stadium lease approved

Updated May 18, 2017 - 6:08 pm

That massive roar you heard about 2 p.m. Thursday from the Clark County Government Center?

That was from Laborers International Union Local 872 hard-hats cheering the Las Vegas Stadium Authority’s unanimous approval of a stadium lease agreement with the Oakland Raiders.

The agreement, more than a month in the making, is an outline for additional pacts that must be approved over the next three months, but it gives NFL owners, meeting in Chicago next week, enough detail to win approval and move toward starting stadium construction by the end of the year. The goal is to complete the stadium in time for the 2020 football season.

Had the authority balked at approving the deal — and there really wasn’t any indication that would happen — chairman Steve Hill had a backup plan: placing the matter on a previously planned Monday morning meeting agenda. The end game was to have the lease in place so NFL owners could review it Monday and Tuesday.

Raiders President Marc Badain said the lease review is on the owners’ agenda. There isn’t expected to be much pushback from them because the NFL has been monitoring the drafting of the document and even contributed language to some sections of the lease.

Thunder sticks

Armed with supportive signs and thunder sticks to generate maximum volume as they cheered, the laborers showed their approval to to the board, including member Tommy White, business manager and secretary-treasurer of Laborers International Union Local 872, and for the thousands of new construction jobs the stadium project is expected to generate.

White was the board member who made the motion to approve the lease.

“I jumped up to make the motion right away because I thought since we were in this from Day One … it was important that I made the motion, or Labor 872 made the motion, to at least get the lease signed,” White said after the meeting, “It means a lot to my members, who have been here for 17 months.”

White is confident construction will start well before the expected startup of December or January.

“From what I’ve seen, they’ve picked the general contractor and the developer,” he said. “Probably, construction’s going to start really fast. First thing we want to do is get the dirt work done and show people out there that we’re ready to start. Besides, the (Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park) just got pushed back one year, and we want to have our stadium done before L.A. I think we’re going to have dirt moving before October. Everybody keeps saying December; I think it’ll be October.”

Inside the room

Mark Arnold of the Houston-based Andrews Kurth Kenyon law firm, representing the authority, said that while negotiations on the lease have been ongoing for weeks, meetings intensified in the last seven days, when the authority determined the NFL meeting deadline.

Arnold said meetings in Las Vegas included Applied Analysis principal Jeremy Aguero, Raiders Executive Vice President Dan Ventrelle and representatives of the Raiders’ outside counsel, Philadelphia-based Morgan Lewis. Throughout the process, the core negotiators would have phone conferences with Badain, Hill, Raiders lender Bank of America and NFL attorneys.

Arnold said that in the final days, it was mostly lengthy telephone conference calls to wrap up negotiations.

“These negotiations are always hard,” Arnold said. “Once we found common ground, there were really no hard parts. You make a list of the issues, and if you can’t solve them, you put them over to the side and you come back and you try to solve it again. The hardest part, to be honest, was to actually have a deadline. Once we had a deadline, things started to fall in place.”

Review-Journal writer Bailey Schulz contributed to this report. Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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