Nevada Brian Sandoval Mark Davis Vegas Raiders
Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis, second from left, watches as Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signs a bill that provides $750 million to help build a Las Vegas NFL stadium. (Image: John Locher/Associated Press)

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R) officially made $750 million in public capital available to the proposed $1.9 billion Las Vegas NFL football stadium project this week by signing Senate and Assembly Bill 1.

The legislation raises the Clark County hotel occupancy tax from 12 percent to 13.38 percent. Of the total 1.38 percentage tax increase, 0.88 percent will be devoted towards funding the state’s $750 million commitment to the 65,000-seat domed stadium. The remaining tax revenue created from the increase will go towards refurbishing the city’s convention center.

“The best brand on the planet is coming together with one of the best brands in professional sports,” Sandoval said of Vegas’ potential relationship with the Raiders. “Las Vegas is ready for this. Nevada is ready for this.”

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the founder and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, is putting up $650 million of his own cash to construct the stadium. Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis is on the hook for the remaining $500 million.

Sandoval’s signature concludes a months-long fight by Adelson and Davis to convince Nevada that bringing the Raiders and the NFL to Las Vegas is in its best interest. Davis was at the Sandoval signing, and told reporters afterwards, “It’s phenomenal. The work that’s gone into it is unquestionably some of the greatest I’ve ever seen.”

NFL Approval Required

With funding now in place, the next step is for Davis to convince at least 24 of the NFL’s 32 owners to vote in favor of allowing him to relocate the Raiders to the Mojave Desert. Davis, who is now in Houston for two days of ownership meetings, says he isn’t ready to petition votes, but will simply inform his colleagues on the developments in Nevada.

There doesn’t appear to be much opposition to Las Vegas welcoming its first NFL franchise and only its second major professional sports team. Concerns over Vegas accommodating a pro sports team due to sports betting have largely dissolved in recent years.   

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is the lone NFL heavyweight who continues to express opposition. Goodell is in the minority among his “Big Four” colleagues.

The National Hockey League (NHL) will expand its league for the 2017 season with a team located in Las Vegas. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said Vegas no longer presents an issue for pro sports, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is leading the charge to end sports betting prohibition and repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

Viva Las Vegas

Should Davis be able to persuade at least three-fourths of the league’s owners, the Raiders will likely continue to play their next two years of football in Oakland before moving to Las Vegas in 2019.

That will give Adelson’s development team time to build the mammoth venue. But before dirt can be moved, a site must be approved.

A 62-acre property west of Interstate 15 at the intersection of Russell Road is the targeted land. That would place the stadium just steps from the Strip, and directly behind Mandalay Bay.

If the project comes to fruition and the Raiders indeed move to Vegas, Davis says he’ll be there for life.

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