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Planned Las Vegas Raiders stadium gets FAA approval

Updated September 5, 2017 - 5:51 pm

A 225-foot-tall NFL stadium proposed by the Raiders would not pose a hazard to commercial jetliners and military aircraft flying through Las Vegas, according to a final report issued Tuesday by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The finding clears the way for the Clark County Commission to consider zoning permits Wednesday for the 65,000-seat domed stadium. The venue, estimated at $1.9 billion, is slated for a vacant 62-acre plot of land on Russell Road, just west of Interstate 15 and roughly 1½ miles from the nation’s eighth-busiest airport.

“From what I saw and heard leading up to this, I knew that there would be no substantive problems with the height, and that any issues could be solved or addressed pretty easily,” Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said.

The Raiders did not respond to requests for comment.

The FAA preliminarily cleared the stadium’s height requirement Aug. 16 and set a Sept. 22 deadline to submit public comments, which would have delayed the county’s ability to consider zoning permits.

Two days later, the FAA shortened the public comment period by three weeks to help keep construction on schedule so that the stadium can open in time for the 2020 NFL season.

The only comment filed by the deadline came from the Air Line Pilots Association International, which raised concerns that reflective materials used to build the stadium, high-intensity floodlights and a large, animated video screen could “severely impact” the vision of pilots coming in for a landing at McCarran International Airport.

The FAA agreed with the concerns raised by the association, which represents more than 57,000 pilots at 33 airlines in the United States and Canada. However, the FAA’s obstruction evaluation process solely concentrated on how the stadium’s height might affect visual procedures, radar, radio navigation and communications.

Factors such as lighting, glare, fireworks and lasers will be evaluated separately by the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization on a case-by-case basis, the report said.

However, the FAA punted to the Clark County Department of Aviation to determine exterior lighting and sign designs prior to the start of construction.

“Height was the immediate, top concern, but it was never the only concern cited,” airport spokesman Chris Jones said. “Now that it appears the structure’s height won’t present an issue, we expect the stadium proponent will begin to address those other issues, and we expect that it will work closely with the Department of Aviation in that process.”

Even though the FAA determined that the stadium would not affect local air traffic space, the agency noted the structure exceeds obstruction standards by 75 feet. As a result, the stadium’s domed roof must be equipped with flashing red lights, the FAA’s report said.

The Raiders submitted 21 different versions of stadium plans in June to the FAA. The agency reviews any structure 200 feet or taller, regardless of location, as part of its obstruction evaluation and airport airspace analysis.

Eight NFL teams currently play in domed venues that range in height from the Dallas Cowboys’ 320-foot-tall AT&T Stadium to the 128-foot-tall Ford Field where the Detroit Lions play.

Contact Art Marroquin at amarroquin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Find @AMarroquin_LV on Twitter.

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