ORLANDO, Fla. — The Raiders took an expected but significant step Tuesday in their effort to build a state-of-the-art stadium in Las Vegas when NFL owners voted almost unanimously to approve a $200 million loan for the $1.8 billion project.
The vote was 31-1 in favor of the Raiders’ stadium plan during the league’s annual meeting, a source said. The person did not disclose which owner dissented, though the Cincinnati Bengals’ Mike Brown is known to vote against lines on such issues.
The loan is part of the NFL’s G-4 program, reserved for stadium construction projects. Certain aspects of the Raiders’ PSL program also were approved as part of Tuesday’s voting, team president Marc Badain said.
“It’s a big day,” owner Mark Davis said. “We’ve got a few more things to do … but it’s exciting again to see a public-private partnership that has just gone so well and so smoothly. You’ve got to give Gov. (Brian) Sandoval, (Clark County Commissioner) Steve Sisolak and even Tommy White with (Local) 872 so much credit for bringing this project together. The jobs they’re creating for Las Vegas and the benefits they’re bringing to that community, it’s just extraordinary.”
Attention now reshifts to Southern Nevada.
At 9 a.m. Wednesday, the Las Vegas Stadium Authority will review the project’s final details. There, the plan can receive a final green light. Construction is scheduled to be completed on Aug. 1, 2020, a couple of weeks before the Raiders would host their first exhibition game there; the season will begin in September.
To appear in Las Vegas, Badain made a fairly quick exit Tuesday from the hotel at which NFL owners met this week. The vote occurred about 4 p.m. EST, roughly three hours before his scheduled flight to Southern Nevada.
Still, he had time to reflect.
Tuesday’s vote occurred on the one-year anniversary of when, at a league meeting in Phoenix, 31 of 32 owners approved the Raiders to relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas. Significant progress since has been made, progress reflected in the activity at the Russell Road construction site, marketing and community relations efforts outside it and more behind-the-scenes workings.
By approving that loan, owners effectively recognized that progress.
“It’s pretty remarkable, isn’t it?” Badain said. “It says a lot about that community — it really does — what they’re capable of. The support that we, as an organization, have received from everybody there, from Sisolak on down. And everyone in the county, and everyone in the stadium authority board, and the governor and the Adelson family. Everyone that had a part in this.
“It’s amazing that it was a year ago we got approval. We got a big hole in the ground, the steel being ordered, the concrete being poured. The Preview Center opened. It’s happening fast. Imagine a year from now. Imagine 850 days from now.”
The authority board is expected to review and sign a number of documents Wednesday.
Many pertain not only to the Raiders’ relocation but also to UNLV’s use of the stadium for Rebels football and the Raiders’ oversight of stadium construction and event management. Agreements also prevent the team from leaving Las Vegas during the 30-year term of the deal and provide findings of the Raiders’ financial status to satisfy requirements listed in Senate Bill 1. The legislation provides $750 million in public money toward construction.
The authority purposely set its final approval meeting Wednesday, giving the owners one more chance to offer amendments to agreements.
While Davis and Badain expressed satisfaction and pride with the progress in the past year, they acknowledged the work that remains.
Davis said, now that the season is over and coach Jon Gruden has been hired, he plans to visit Las Vegas more in the coming months as part of his involvement. He also acknowledged the luxury of having core staffers, such as Badain, in place to continue to spearhead those efforts.
Amid the relocation, the owner seemed hopeful Las Vegas could host the NFL draft in spring 2020. He called the city a “slam dunk” to host a Super Bowl sometime thereafter.
Draft and Super Bowl location bids will be determined at the May owner meetings in Atlanta. Davis serves on the Super Bowl and Major Events Advisory Committee and hinted that Las Vegas might not be on the shortlist for the Super Bowl 57 and 58 bids. The next four Super Bowls, 53 to 56, already are determined. Phoenix could receive a game in May, Davis said.
The Raiders have substantial stadium work ahead, and that is without mentioning their ongoing efforts to extend their lease at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. It expires after this season, and the franchise hopes to play there through 2019.
Hence, Tuesday was only one step.
“We have to keep the project on time and on budget,” Badain said. “We have to sell it. We have to build a practice facility. There’s going to be a million things to do. This, I think, closes the chapter on a lot of the documentation and all the legal framework, everything related to the transfer of the land. There’s just a lot that goes into a deal that’s this complex and has this many elements to a public-private sponsorship.”