Raiders president: Las Vegas stadium financing on track

Raiders president: Las Vegas stadium financing on track

LAS VEGAS -- The Oakland Raiders and the board overseeing the proposed NFL stadium in Las Vegas have high hopes for the project despite losing an instrumental supporter, but their plan is still missing hundreds of millions of dollars in financing.

Team leaders and the stadium authority board met publicly Thursday for the first time since casino magnate Sheldon Adelson withdrew a $650 million pledge for the project. Both sides plan to continue to work on a lease agreement, but the team didn't give a definitive answer for the major financial gap.

"The organization remains fully committed to this project," Raiders president Marc Badain told the stadium authority board members. "We are not deterred. Financing will not be an issue."

Badain told the board the team is in discussions with "multiple financial institutions," but declined to elaborate beyond that when asked by The Associated Press. The cost of the 65,000-seat domed stadium is pegged at $1.9 billion.

The meeting in Las Vegas came at a crucial time for the Raiders' proposed relocation: less than two weeks after Adelson pulled out of the project and six weeks before an NFL owners' meeting where they are expected to vote on whether to approve the move.

Badain and stadium authority board members on Thursday expressed confidence in their ability to make significant progress in a proposed lease and use agreement ahead of the owners gathering. A draft of the agreement that the Raiders presented to the stadium authority board last month includes a proposed $1 annual rent for the team.

"We'll work to make it better," board chairman Steve Hill said. "We may make six weeks' worth of progress in the next three or four weeks."

The Raiders paid $3.5 million in rent to play at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in 2016, up from $925,000 for the 2015 season. The team has options to remain at the stadium for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Adelson and his family had pledged $650 million and the Raiders promised $500 million, with the stadium authority putting up $750 million in Las Vegas tax revenues.

Adelson, the chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp. whose holdings include the Venetian and Palazzo resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, played an instrumental role in winning state approval to help fund the stadium with public money.

In withdrawing, he declared that he had been shut out of talks that led to the lease document being presented to the stadium authority.

Another lingering question is location. A site hasn't been picked for the stadium, although a parcel of land near the Las Vegas Strip has emerged as a preferred location.

The stadium authority is a public board whose operations will be funded by the newly approved Las Vegas-area hotel tax increase that's expected to yield $13 million a year. Casinos won't start collecting that until March 1, and money won't flow to the authority until April.

McKenzie: Marshawn Lynch 'already entrenched' in Raiders locker room

McKenzie: Marshawn Lynch 'already entrenched' in Raiders locker room

Marshawn Lynch took some time to agree on contract terms with the Raiders. The Oakland native formally joined the Silver and Black a day before the NFL Draft, which served as a soft deadline for his commitment to unretire and join his hometown team.

The Raiders have been pleasantly surprised by Lynch since acquiring his rights from Seattle on April 26, starting with unbridled enthusiasm upon signing his new contract.

He reported to the Raiders offseason program in tremendous shape despite being out of football in 2016, and has been a full participant in workouts he was apathetic towards in Seattle. Lynch has also fit right in to the Raiders locker room culture since joining the club.

“He has been great,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said Thursday in an interview with 95.7-The Game. “He has been great in meetings. He has been great on the field. He’s going well in terms of his physical progress. He’s doing quite nicely and we think he’s going to be a great help on the field.

“Off the field, he has meshed very well with the team and is already entrenched as one of the guys. It’s going well with him.”

While it took some time to navigate a complex acquisition process, McKenzie said it went relatively smooth.

“Prior to getting him, I had no setbacks thinking he was not going to be able to get here,” McKenzie said. “My communication with Seattle and Marshawn’s people was great. Everyone indicated that he wanted to play. That’s all we needed to know. The fact he wanted to be a Raider was icing on the cake. We went through the process and got it done. He’s excited, and so are we.”

The Raiders now have a deep running back group. Lynch’s physical rushing style is the focal point of an attack that also features smaller, elusive rushers Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. Those guys will run behind a productive offensive line considered among the NFL’s best.

Board unanimously approves conditional lease for Raiders stadium in Vegas

Board unanimously approves conditional lease for Raiders stadium in Vegas

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.