LAS VEGAS — A site for a proposed 65,000-seat retractable-roof stadium in Las Vegas is in question, as funding formulas are still being worked out for the project that could cost up to $1.6 billion.
Nevertheless, tourism officials and Las Vegas Strip business leaders said Thursday they were enthusiastic about a proposal backed by billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson's company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., to build a domed stadium to lure the NFL Oakland Raiders to town.
"We should do this," Las Vegas Sands executive Robert Goldstein said.
A month after Raiders owner Mark Davis appeared in person to commit $500 million toward the project, team President Marc Badain sat flanked by laborers' union representatives wearing team color silver-and-black jerseys and told the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee the Raiders' commitment is real.
"We look forward to calling this place home," he said.
However, Goldstein, who presented the stadium plan, made it clear that if a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, campus site is deemed to be too close to McCarran International Airport, project planners will need to quickly find another 40 acres.
Timelines for beginning play in the fall of 2020 show football league owners and the Raiders deciding in eight months if a team move to Las Vegas is a go.
"Time is of the essence for the NFL and for this stadium," Goldstein told the 11-member governor-appointed panel. "We've got to find a piece of real estate that suits us and put it forth to the NFL. Because come January, if we're not real, this has all been fun, but a waste of time."
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman lobbied for downtown.
Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said he liked the idea of putting people to work.
Las Vegas Strip sites mentioned included one at Sahara Avenue, on the city-county line. Another was near the shuttered Riviera hotel-casino, which is slated for demolition this summer to make room to expand the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Steve Hill, director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, noted that cost estimates to date have not included land acquisition costs.
As proposed, $750 million in public funding would come from a slice of hotel room tax revenues, or about $50 million per year. Commissioners were told that would add a little more than $1 per night to the average tourist's hotel room bill.
Goldstein insisted it wasn't taxpayer money.
Private entities other than the Raiders would put up between $240 million and $540 million toward the project, depending on final costs. The commission was told those partners would also be responsible for operations and cost overruns.
Officials say the stadium also could host professional and exhibition soccer matches, concerts, music festivals, motorsports events, boxing and maybe an NFL Super Bowl or NCAA basketball tournament.
The timeline suggests state lawmakers could be summoned to Carson City in August to be asked to approve forming a stadium authority.