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Panel studying Las Vegas stadium plan edges closer to recommendation

Two potential snags emerged Thursday in the development of a 65,000-seat, $1.9 billion domed football stadium, even as the committee studying the plan moved closer to making a recommendation to Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Both the 11-member Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee and the developers of the proposed Las Vegas stadium agreed to meet Sept. 15 to discuss unresolved issues.

The two sides remain far apart on some of those issues.

The family of Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson, Majestic Realty and the Oakland Raiders first pitched the stadium in January. They’re asking for $750 million in room-tax revenue to help finance the project. If a room tax increase is approved to fund the stadium, the Raiders have promised to seek the NFL’s permission to move to Las Vegas.

The developers haven’t wavered from the $750 million figure, and the committee is prepared to go along with a 0.88 percentage-point increase in Clark County’s room tax to finance general obligation bonds over 33 years.


 


One potential hang-up: a new provision that proposed public funding “to the construction and development cost of the NFL stadium project shall not exceed 39 percent of the total cost of the stadium project.”

The developers objected to a maximum public contribution percentage, saying the standard should be one requiring them to build a stadium “that meets NFL stadium standards.” The developers indicated that the cost of the project could be lower than the amount presented in earlier meetings and, therefore, a higher percentage of public funding could result.

Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee members also said they wanted a provision written into the legislation that would assure the public some return on investment if the stadium is a success. The developers rejected the idea, saying they would have a bigger risk in the deal by pledging to pay for any construction cost overruns.

The developers, represented by executives of Las Vegas Sands Corp., said those two provisions would be deal killers.


 


The stadium backers are trying to expedite the drafting of proposed legislation so Sandoval can call a special session of the Nevada Legislature to consider the plan. Sandoval has said he would not decide whether to call a special session until he sees the committee’s recommendation.

At Thursday’s meeting, Jeremy Aguero of Las Vegas-based Applied Analysis, who has provided financial background for the committee since it began work more than a year ago, went through the 45 sections of the legislation that would be considered by state lawmakers.

Aguero also explained the oversight and management of the project by a seven-member stadium authority board. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman suggested that the city have a say in appointing representatives to that board. Under the existing legislation, the governor would appoint three members of the stadium authority board, and the Clark County Commission and the stadium developers would recommend two members each.

The proposed legislation also addresses what would happen if the bid to build an NFL-ready stadium were to collapse after the Legislature approved public funding. In that case, UNLV’s campus improvement authority would be able to tap funds generated by new room tax revenue to build a smaller collegiate stadium, provided UNLV raises $200 million within two years.

Earlier in the meeting, the board approved a recommendation to the Legislature to suspend a sunset date for a sales and use tax to fund additional police officers for the resort corridor. The current sunset date is Oct. 1, 2025. If continued, the revenue would provide continued financial support for additional police protection.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

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

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