Much work remains on Vegas stadium plan; more time sought
LAS VEGAS — A committee that’s developing plans for an NFL-grade stadium in Las Vegas wants more time for its project as questions about the cost and location remain far from resolved.
Stadium proponents who hope to lure the Raiders from Oakland presented nine possible sites Monday to the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, three weeks before the group was supposed to finalize recommendations for Gov. Brian Sandoval. Supporters had initially suggested they could get the work done so lawmakers could vote on a funding structure in August.
“We’re pretty obviously not at the end,” said chairman Steve Hill of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, who said he’d ask Sandoval for a two-month deadline extension.
Officials from the Las Vegas Sands Corp. casino company, which is spearheading the stadium push along with developer Majestic Realty Co., said they’ve been working around the clock to find a suitable place for a 65,000-seat, domed venue. An original proposal to place the stadium on 42 acres of UNLV land across from the airport faces criticism from Southwest Airlines and others, who say it will snarl airport-bound traffic and would likely feature bright signs that would distract pilots trying to land nearby.
Some of the nine proposed sites — including the former home of the Wet’n’Wild water park and an MGM Resorts-owned lot that hosts the Rock in Rio festival — fall short of the 50-64 acres that developers say they need. More spacious sites further away from the tourist corridor would be too far away for visitors on foot.
“It’s hard work to stay close to the Strip, but it’s worth it,” said Sands president Robert Goldstein.
Sands officials said they could narrow down the site list and hone in the price before the end of the month. They don’t want the committee’s work to linger through September, which could hinder their effort to hammer out a deal before NFL owners meet in January and might vote on a Raiders relocation.
At least three-quarters of team owners must approve any move, and the league has historically shied away from Las Vegas because of its gambling industry.
The cost of buying prime land near the Strip is a major variable in the overall stadium price tag, which was initially pegged at $1.4 billion but is now estimated at between $1.7 billion and $2.1 billion.
Developers want $750 million in public funds for the project, likely from an increase in hotel room taxes, and want to tap into tax revenue generated at businesses close to the stadium.
Hill has proposed a lower public contribution of $550 million.