We end 2016 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Football Stadium Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #2: The proposed Las Vegas stadium for the Oakland Raiders.
The Oakland Raiders have spent years searching for a new stadium and, if the team gets its way, that effort could culminate in a new stadium in Las Vegas. A decision over whether the team moves will not be finalized until early 2017, and Oakland is trying to keep the team, but the Raiders made some headway over the past year in establishing the Las Vegas Raiders.
Throughout much of the summer, the stadium was being reviewed by the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, which was to consider the plan and make a recommendation to Nevada govenor Brian Sandoval about whether to back the proposal with public funds. The Raiders, meanwhile, worked with Sheldon Adelson, and his Las Vegas Sands Corp., and Majestic Realty—which later left the project–on developing a stadium solution.
With UNLV considered a possible co-tenant, the parties looked to build a stadium near the Las Vegas Strip. Therefore, parcels in that area were given a greater priority that proposals in downtown Las Vegas and other locations. What eventually emerged was a $1.9 billion stadium project, with the Raiders kicking in $500 million and Adelson’s family contributing $650 million.
To come up with the remaining balance, the Raiders and other partners lobbied for $750 in public funds, paid for through a series of hotel tax increases. The project therefore needed to be addressed through a special state legislative session, something Sandoval ordered after the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee recommended the project. That session yielded a result favorable to the project, as legislatures approved the funding measure.
Even as that unfolded, some in the NFL expressed a desire to see Oakland generate a proposal to keep the Raiders. Oakland officials were clear that they were not willing to engage in a bidding war with Las Vegas, and instead wanted to leverage a private/public partnership for new stadium and related development on the land surrounding the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Working on that effort was an investment group that included Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott. Despite the lack of a commitment from the Raiders, Oakland and Alameda County officials recently approved the term sheet for a proposal that includes a new stadium and adjacent development. The stadium and development would largely be covered by Lott’s group and other private interests–including the Raiders and the NFL–while Oakland would kick in $200 million for infrastructure upgrades.
In the weeks since that vote, it has seemed that the NFL is not sold on Oakland’s plan and could be warming to the idea of giving the Raiders permissions to move–something that was already backed by some owners. In fact, The Wall Street Journal, in a feature Raiders owner Mark Davis, is reporting that some in the league see where the proposal to move to Las Vegas is gaining traction.
More on this story will develop over the coming weeks, but with the decisions they made in 2016, the Raiders are clearly setting their sights on Las Vegas.
Previously in our Top Ten Stories of 2016 List:
#4: Los Angeles Rams
#5: Turner Field