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Financing for Las Vegas Stadium in Jeopardy

New Las Vegas Stadium

More funding issues are surfacing for a Las Vegas stadium that would house the Oakland Raiders, as Goldman Sachs is reportedly not committing to the project.  

It was confirmed earlier this week that billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson will no longer a partner in the project. Adelson, who was to contribute $650 million to the $1.9 billion stadium project, had indicated last fall that negotiations with the Raiders were not going smoothly, and the two sides have ultimately been unable to come to terms.

Leading up to Adelson’s departure, the Raiders indicated that Goldman Sachs was prepared to back the stadium regardless. However, multiple reports have stated that this is not the case, as Goldman Sachs is not prepared to offer financing without Adelson in the mix.

That would leave a significant gap in the funding model, which is slated to include $500 million from the Raiders and $750 million in public funds. Nevada governor Brian Sandoval has said that public funding will not exceed $750 million, so the Raiders will be left to somehow fill the project’s funding gap. While stadium talks will continue, some local officials are expressing concern about how the facility can be financed. More from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak was a member of the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, which recommended the legislation that authorized $750 million in public funding. He said he spoke with Raiders President Marc Badain on Tuesday but received no reassurance that there was a path toward getting the deal on track.

“They’re (the Raiders) looking for another potential entity to fill that void,” Sisolak said. “I personally haven’t heard of anybody who could step up.”

He said he expects the Las Vegas Stadium Authority to continue the work of reviewing a stadium lease with the Raiders. Sections of the draft, which call for the Raiders to pay $1 per year in annual rent, restrict scheduling and field markings for UNLV football games. The dome had been proposed as a home for the Rebels and the Raiders.

One issue that could be discussed with more frequency in the coming weeks is the status of UNLV, which was to move its football program to the new Las Vegas stadium once it opened. Last year, when the public funding discussion for the stadium was taking place, many officials pushed for a framework that would allow UNLV to obtain a stadium regardless of whether the Raiders opted to relocate.

If the current issues with the Raiders prove to be insurmountable, UNLV will have the option to pursue a smaller stadium that will be backed in part by public funds. Undertaking such an effort, however, will require the school to raise funds of it own to compliment the $300 million that would come from tax revenue. More from The Las Vegas Sun:

If no team accepts that deal, UNLV President Len Jessup or his successor would have three months from the expiration of an effort to attract a pro team to decide if he wants to build a stadium primarily dedicated to the Rebels. A simple “yes” does not secure any public money, as UNLV would need to raise $200 million in private funding over the next two years in order to trigger its claim in SB1.

The law authorizes a reduced public commitment of $300 million for a UNLV stadium; the tax on Strip rooms would fall from 0.88 percent to 0.375 percent, while the lodging tax on rooms in the remainder of the stadium district would drop from 0.50 percent to 0.25 percent. At least 40,000 seats would be required in a UNLV facility, per the legislation.

Jessup said in a statement that he hopes to find a new home for the Rebels with or without the Raiders.

“We would like to think that a new state-of-the-art stadium is still possible and will be the future home of UNLV football,” Jessup said.

The stadium has been slated to open in 2020. The NFL is set to decide whether to grant the Raiders permission to relocate by the end of March.

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