More fake news about the Oakland Raiders Las Vegas NFL Stadium was tossed your way this week.
There are some in the sports media business who just write to maintain access. Access to team players, managers, and owners. When that desire runs up against the public’s need to get the truth, readers suffer under the worse barrage of fake news there is. That happened on Tuesday of this week.
I’m not going to name the person at fault for this, but the scribe is well-known in San Francisco Bay Area Sports Media and, from an entirely other perspective, is a heck-of-a-nice person. Still, the writer is obviously only trying to make the Oakland Raiders brass happy, because this person issued a take with the headline that the Oakland Raiders Las Vegas NFL Stadium project will have only snags and not roadblocks, and based that conclusion only on a so-called source who said “the casinos want this”, referring to the Raiders new stadium.
My friend could have got that kind of quote from any yahoo – and that dude or dudett would not even have to be a Las Vegas resident. “The casinos want this” is a statement only a person who has not really followed the Oakland Raiders Las Vegas NFL Stadium story, let alone understand urban development, would make.
Everyone who knows the Oakland Raiders Las Vegas NFL Stadium story is aware, and in some cases painfully so, that the project is posting a giant mound of costs that the Raiders would never have to deal with in Oakland. Let’s look at what they are:
1. Relocation Fee of $370 million: This is the easy cost the Raiders have to bear and they expected it, and because it’s levied by the NFL, there are a number of ways the League can allow the Silver and Black to afford to pay it. Still, it’s a cost the Raiders would not have to deal with in Oakland.
2. Off-Site Transportation Cost of $450 million: This is 50 percent of the estimated $900 million in total, stadium related, expenses for the installation of a number of projects the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) has identified as needing to be completed before the stadium opens. Such things as new interchanges (three of them) at $200 million each, and ‘High Occupancy Vehicle” lanes along Interstate 15.
The Southern Nevada Tourism and Investment Act (SNTIA) is the law that not only gave the greenlight to the much-talked-about $750 million subsidy for stadium construction, it also mandates that the “developer” pay an “adequate” amount of the off-site transportation infrastructure cost that was preliminarily determined by NDOT. Note the word preliminarily.
Here’s the latest bad news associated with that matter: the Las Vegas Stadium Authority hired a firm called Marnell Companies to basically review the Kimey Horn Transportation Study – the one that laid out that the Raiders would also generate a number of traffic problems for streets and roads, not just the highways. Well, guess what? Marnell Companies found a ton of errors that also point to the late-2016 NDOT report of $900 million, and the Kimey Horn work which was based, to a degree, off of it.
The simple explanation is that no one at Kimey Horn or NDOT bothered to estimate the actual traffic impact of the stadium itself on top of and in addition to the current traffic levels! In the case of NDOT, existing planned projects were identified as candidates for early construction, but not one person bothered to ask exactly what kind of highways and roads would be needed because of the stadium but that are not planned as of now. In NDOT’s defense, it did say the findings were preliminary. But what this means is the real cost of the transportation infrastructure improvement needed for the Las Vegas NFL stadium is not known, and is certainly higher than $900 million – which means the Raiders share of that cost is going to be north of that, thanks to the SNTIA.
What Marnell Companies also pointed out is that NDOT and Kimey Horn did not take into account the combined traffic produced by the patrons leaving the Raiders stadium just as others are trying to get to McCarran International Airport. That would create a nightmare traffic situation higher and beyond the kind of ‘we can deal with traffic as if it’s nothing’ take that Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak shared a few months ago when it became obvious this traffic deal had not been thought out by the Raiders. There are a lot of problems – did you know the stadium can’t even handle having a line of taxis and Uber and Lyft cars? That’s what Marnell Companies discovered. Wow!
3. Parking Facility Cost of $195.7 million: that’s based on Clark County’s regulatory call for 14,000 additional parking spaces and only because, well, the Raiders need 16,250 of them, but can only come up with 2,250 next to the stadium – times the per-acre cost of land around the stadium, the market rate of which is $2.9 million right now, and then times the number of acres needed: which is 67.4 acres assuming that each parking space is about 210 square feet – that comes to $195.7 million.
So that total cost is, so far, $1.015 billion in costs that the Oakland Raiders have to bear that they can avoid by building a new stadium in Oakland. Repeat, the Raiders could take the Fortress new stadium deal in Oakland, and save at least $1.015 billion in costs. Let’s add that to the stadium’s base expense of $1.9 billion – we get $2.915 billion – almost $3 billion in expenses and climbing. Note that we have not even seen the acutual price tag to build the stadium (the guaranteed maximum price), and we will not know what that will be until (hopefully for the Raiders) February or March of 2018. That could be even more expensive that the $1.9 billion – and that does not even include other unforceen costs. Like, who’s going to pay for the much-needed water runoff drainpool? The Atlanta Falcons Stadium has one; what ahout the Raiders stadium, which happens to be in a flood plain?
So far, no casino has officially stepped forward to take on these expenses on behalf of the Oakland Raiders. In fact, as Las Vegas minority contracting activist Stanley Washington told me “the casinos have gotten a lot for spending no money at all – they’re not about to change that. Now, Everyone’s watching to see what the Raiders do.”
Raiders Owner Mark Davis scared away the blank check Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson had offered to pay for all of these costs (and as a gift to Las Vegas) when Davis tried to double-cross him.
I hear the popcorn’s good in Las Vegas. Maybe the guy who wrote the take about the idea that the “casinos want this” should have some for himself – he’s gonna need it.