LAS VEGAS -- The public board that oversees the proposed stadium where the Raiders want to start playing in 2020 on Thursday unanimously approved a conditional lease agreement for the facility after months of negotiations that were affected by the sudden exit of an instrumental financial backer of the $1.9 billion project.
The Las Vegas Stadium Authority board was running up against a deadline to approve the lease to avoid delaying the team's relocation by a year, as NFL owners gathering next week in Chicago plan to take up the document. It addresses various aspects related to the 65,000-seat stadium, including insurance, repairs, maintenance, naming rights and a rent-free provision.
"We got to the finish line in time, but we didn't start real well, and obviously, that kind of set off some events," board chairman Steve Hill said after the meeting. "We lost six weeks in the process, but we made up for it, the Raiders made up for it, and we are here today where we need to be."
The six weeks were lost after casino mogul Sheldon Adelson withdrew his multimillion-dollar pledge from the project just days after the first draft of the lease agreement, which included a $1 annual rent, was unveiled in January. The billionaire's move sent the team searching for $650 million to fill the financial gap he created.
The team ended up securing a loan from Bank of America. Guests of hotels and other lodging facilities in the Las Vegas area are contributing $750 million through a room tax increase, while the Raiders and the NFL all along have been expected to contribute $500 million.
The document approved Thursday to the cheers of workers in the Laborers Union and others is conditional upon other agreements being reached between the team, the board and other entities. The team would not pay rent under the 30-year agreement, but it would have to contribute to a fund that would cover capital expenses that come up as the facility ages.
The agreement also gives the team the right to name the stadium and prohibits any type of gambling in the premises.
Next on the board's priority list is an agreement that would allow the football team of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to use the facility. The team also has to figure out parking options for the stadium that will be built near the Las Vegas Strip, west of the Mandalay Bay casino-resort. The land they recently purchased is not big enough to accommodate the one-spot-per-four-seats county requirement.
Raiders President Marc Badain said the design for the stadium has been finalized, but renderings will not be unveiled immediately.
"It's going to be spectacular," he said after the lease was approved. He added that the team has heard from entities interested in the stadium's naming rights.