The Las Vegas Stadium Authority Board will meet on Thursday to hopefully clear up structure concerns of the original draft of a proposed lease agreement submitted by the Oakland Raiders in January for a $1.9 billion domed stadium project.
Putting an end to months of speculation, Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson and his family officially withdrew as investors in the project on January 30. The original plan would have seen Adelson contribute $650 million, with the Raiders organization kicking in $500 million. The state of Nevada would have been responsible for the remaining $750 million, which would come from revenue raised from a Clark County hotel tax. The decision by Adelson was made after the Raiders organization submitted the lease proposal to the board without informing him of its existence.
Anticipating Adelson’s departure, the Raiders met with NFL officials on Jan. 11, and presented a funding plan for the stadium that did not include Adelson’s contribution. The alternative plan included help from global investment banking firm Goldman Sachs, which the Raiders said would help to finance the remaining $650 million in the event Adelson backed out of the deal, according to a CBS Sports.com report. However, it appears that the decision to withdraw by the soon-to-be 84-year-old Adelson served as a catalyst for Goldman Sachs to step aside as well.
Commenting on the murkiness of the proposed lease agreement, Daniel Etna, partner in the Corporate Department, and co-chair of the law firm of Herrick, Feinstein LLP’s Sports Law Group, said, “You kind of get the impression that Raiders ownership is trying to nonchalant the whole thing.” Etna said, “At the end of the day, it’s one thing to talk about it and it’s another thing to actually have another financing commitment in hand,” according to the Las Vegas Sun. Etna’s law firm has collaborated with the Raiders in the past, when it worked on a proposal for the development of a sports and entertainment complex in California.
The attorney reportedly speculated that “Perhaps the Raiders have found somebody that’s prepared to provide the required financing and they’re just going like the hammers of hell trying to get something put in place.” He said, “I’ve been viewing this with kind of a jaded lens when they say everything is OK.”
According to the Sun report, included in the outlining of the restructured lease agreement proposal by the board for Raiders officials are the changes required in order to be compliant with SB1, which was passed by the Nevada Senate in October authorizing the $750 million expenditure for the stadium project.
On Thursday, Steve Hill, chairman of the Stadium Authority Board, said that they Raiders “feel confident that they can put the financing in place in order to move forward with their application,” regarding the stadium financing component of the proposal.
On January 19, the NFL franchise filed paperwork to move from its current home at the Oakland Coliseum to Las Vegas. A three-fourths majority vote is required from the NFL’s 32 league owners to approve the relocation. That vote will take place at the annual league meeting in Phoenix on March 26-29.