State, county officials question demands laid in Raiders’ proposed lease

Several state and county lawmakers Friday questioned demands laid out by the Oakland Raiders in a proposed lease for a planned 65,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas.

Two Clark County commissioners said they were surprised by a proposal for the Raiders to pay $1 a year in rent to use the stadium. And some state legislators joined the executive director of the Las Vegas Bowl in questioning the Raiders’ proposals to control scheduling and field markings at the stadium.

However, Steve Hill, chairman of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, said the public shouldn’t overreact to the terms of the proposed lease the Raiders delivered to the authority on Thursday. He said the proposal represents a starting point and authority board members would dissect the contract paragraph by paragraph in future meetings.

The proposed agreement addresses every aspect of the team’s use of the stadium, from the sale of concessions and merchandise to parking and the placement of automatic teller machines. The document also addresses stadium naming rights, advertising and broadcast rights and the proposed $1-a-year lease cost.

On Friday, Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said he learned about the $1 rent proposal by reading the newspaper. He said he’s waiting to see if the Raiders will increase their contribution for the stadium’s construction.

“I don’t know if that’s a starting point or where they’ll end up. One dollar is basically no rent,” Sisolak said. “Somehow this is going to have to work that (the stadium) pays its expenses — operating and overhead — and I don’t know if rent at $1 is sufficient. I tend to think that it might not be.”

Chris Giunchigliani was more blunt, calling the proposed rent amount shameful.

“I’m shocked. How arrogant is that?” she asked. “They’re a for-profit company. They should be better partners if they’re coming here.”

STADIUM REVENUE

However, Hill said there’s a misconception that the stadium authority would receive revenue from the operation of the stadium.

“If the stadium authority did get revenue, it would almost certainly cause the bonds to lose their tax-exempt status, which obviously would create a major problem and a major hole in the financing package,” Hill said. “We can’t even take the dollar,” he said, referencing the $1-a-year lease.

The Raiders’ domed stadium would be owned by the stadium authority, because Clark County hotel room tax revenues would cover $750 million in bonds toward $1.9 billion in construction costs. The Raiders would cover $500 million, and the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson would contribute $650 million.

The proposed lease agreement makes no mention of the Adelsons or any other potential private development partner. Earlier this month, the Raiders told the NFL that Goldman Sachs is committed to financing the stadium with or without an investment from the Adelsons.

Hill said the proposed lease is an alternative that assumes the team would be the sole non-public investor funding the stadium. He also said that negotiations are continuing with the Adelson family to partner on the project.

“It’s important to note that the proposal the Raiders gave us assumes that they would be the sole investor in the stadium,” Hill said. “The way we originally assumed it would happen is that the Raiders and the Adelson family would directly invest and there would be an agreement between the team and the family.”

Mari St. Martin, spokeswoman for Gov. Brian Sandoval, also said the lease “assumes that the Raiders will serve as the stadium operator and contemplates all risks associated with that designation. This proposal does not consider an additional third party. … In this proposal, the Raiders would invest $1.15 billion in the stadium and accept all responsibilities and risk.”

“Any lease proposal will require a thorough vetting by the Stadium Authority board and detailed discussions with the Raiders franchise to ensure the lease accurately reflects and protects the state’s investment in this public stadium,” she said in a statement.

SCHEDULING RESTRICTIONS

Meanwhile, Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, D-Las Vegas, said he thinks the proposed restrictions on scheduling and field markings for UNLV games could be a sticking point for some lawmakers.

“Some of the lawmakers agreed to this deal with the understanding that UNLV would play their home games there, and the field would be UNLV,” Atkinson said. “UNLV being able to have their name, their logo, their colors — I think that means a lot to a lot of the lawmakers.”

But Atkinson added that he doesn’t think those restrictions will truly impact the relationship between the Raiders and Rebels because the two teams rarely play on the same day. So those field markings, he said, should be able to be repainted in between UNLV and Raider games.

Assemblywoman Irene Bustamante Adams, D-Las Vegas, also said the potential restricting of UNLV’s field usage would bring up “some yellow flags” for her.

And Assemblyman Nelson Araujo, D-Las Vegas, said he thinks lawmakers should continue to keep an eye on the stadium authority to ensure that UNLV is protected during the lease negotiations.

UNLV athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy would not comment Friday on the specifics of the Raiders’ proposals.

Las Vegas Bowl executive director John Saccenti said the Raiders’ proposals to control scheduling and field markings for the proposed new stadium caught him by surprise, but said he was willing to take a wait-and-see approach.

“The good thing is I’ve met with the Raiders a couple of times now, and so I get the sense that we’d have a good working relationship and there’s really nothing to worry about,” Saccenti said Friday.

But he still wanted to learn more details on the Raiders’ asking for the rights to approve any college football game in the new stadium and for any markings from such events to be completely removed before the NFL team takes the field.

That is, if they take the field in Las Vegas. Though the Raiders have applied to the NFL to relocate to Southern Nevada, at least 24 of the 32 owners must approve the move. A vote is expected in late March at the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix.

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

Staff writers Michael Scott Davidson, Colton Lochhead and Sandra Chereb contributed to this report.

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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

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