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As Funding for Las Vegas Stadium is Discussed, Southwest Weighs in on Site

New Las Vegas Stadium

The clock is ticking on a study for a Las Vegas stadium for the Oakland Raiders, and public funding remains in question. 

During a meeting last week, the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee countered a plan from the Raiders and Las Vegas Sands Corp that called for $750 million in public money. Rather than receiving the money outright, the project would have its public contribution capped at 39% of the total cost, thereby lowering the amount of public money used if the $1.9 billion stadium came in under budget.

The Raiders and Las Vegas Sands Corp rejected the idea, insisting that the $750 million public contribution–which would be funded through a 0.88% increase on Clark County’s hotel tax–needs to be guaranteed. Now there are two alternatives up for discussion, one that includes caps on both the public contributions and preferred return, and another that guarantees $750 million in public funding. More from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

One of the financing options before the committee includes that 39 percent cap and would set the developers’ “preferred return” at 10 percent on up to $650 million.

 That option also calls for a 50-50 split of the cash flow after the 10 percent return between the developers and a capital improvement fund for the stadium project. It would not allow operating shortfalls or overruns in construction costs to be added to the preferred return calculation.

The second option under consideration Thursday requires a total $750 million public investment, eliminates the 39 percent public contribution cap and states that all stadium profits would go to the developers during the lifetime of the lease.

While having to address the wide gap and consternation over funding, the committee also needs to consider the site. Previously the Bali Hai Golf Club was believed to be the preferred site, but an announcement last month indicated that a location north of Russell Road was the leading candidate.

The reasons behind the dismissal of the golf club could be McCarran Airport and Southwest Airlines. As the committee moves closer to making a final recommendation on the site, Southwest has said that developing at Bali Hai Golf Club would affect the airline’s operations. More from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

The 140-acre Bali Hai property sits just west of McCarran’s runways, separated only by Las Vegas Boulevard. A second site — the stadium developers’ preferred location — spans 62 acres northwest of Russell Road and Interstate 15. It was considered “acceptable,” Southwest Airlines spokesman Dan Landson said.

“The Bali Hai location would be too close to the airport, and at the end of the day we want to make sure our operations are safe,” Landson said, adding that the carrier has expressed its concerns with Clark County officials. “Our No. 1 focus is safety.”

Landson said Southwest’s concerns mirror those outlined in a letter sent in June to Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, which stated that any stadium built on a 42-acre site at Tropicana Avenue and Koval Lane would “erode safety, security and capacity” at the nation’s eighth-busiest airport. The airline also voiced concerns about distractions to pilots such as light displays, fireworks and video message boards.

Prior to that June letter, the site at Tropicana and Koval was believed to be the leading contender, but it was essentially scrapped when it Southwest voiced its concerns. Given that it is now expressing similar issues with Bali Hai, the stadium developers may very well get their prefered site. Funding for the stadium, however, does not seem as certain.

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