LAS VEGAS – The Oakland Raiders and the board overseeing the proposed NFL stadium in Las Vegas have high hopes for the project despite losing an instrumental supporter, but their plan is still missing hundreds of millions of dollars in financing.
Team leaders and the stadium authority board met publicly Thursday for the first time since casino magnate Sheldon Adelson withdrew a $650 million pledge for the project. Both sides plan to continue to work on a lease agreement, but the team didn’t give a definitive answer for the major financial gap.
“The organization remains fully committed to this project,” Raiders president Marc Badain told the stadium authority board members. “We are not deterred. Financing will not be an issue.”
Badain told the board the team is in discussions with “multiple financial institutions,” but declined to elaborate beyond that when asked by The Associated Press. The cost of the 65,000-seat domed stadium is pegged at $1.9 billion.
The meeting in Las Vegas came at a crucial time for the Raiders’ proposed relocation: less than two weeks after Adelson pulled out of the project and six weeks before an NFL owners’ meeting where they are expected to vote on whether to approve the move.
Badain and stadium authority board members on Thursday expressed confidence in their ability to make significant progress in a proposed lease and use agreement ahead of the owners gathering. A draft of the agreement that the Raiders presented to the stadium authority board last month includes a proposed $1 annual rent for the team.
“We’ll work to make it better,” board chairman Steve Hill said. “We may make six weeks’ worth of progress in the next three or four weeks.”
The Raiders paid $3.5 million in rent to play at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in 2016, up from $925,000 for the 2015 season. The team has options to remain at the stadium for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Adelson and his family had pledged $650 million and the Raiders promised $500 million, with the stadium authority putting up $750 million in Las Vegas tax revenues.
Adelson, the chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp. whose holdings include the Venetian and Palazzo resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, played an instrumental role in winning state approval to help fund the stadium with public money.
In withdrawing, he declared that he had been shut out of talks that led to the lease document being presented to the stadium authority.
Another lingering question is location. A site hasn’t been picked for the stadium, although a parcel of land near the Las Vegas Strip has emerged as a preferred location.
The stadium authority is a public board whose operations will be funded by the newly approved Las Vegas-area hotel tax increase that’s expected to yield $13 million a year. Casinos won’t start collecting that until March 1, and money won’t flow to the authority until April.
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