Las Vegas Sands wants stadium for UNLV, possibly Raiders
The billionaire owner of the Las Vegas Sands casino company wants to help build a domed stadium on the UNLV campus and is meeting with the owner of the Oakland Raiders, company officials said Thursday.
Sands spokesman Ron Reese said the casino company envisions a public-private partnership to build a $1 billion, 65,000-seat stadium that could be shared by a professional team and UNLV. The Sands would likely partner with other investors and might seek to draw on public revenue sources, such as hotel room tax revenue earmarked for promoting tourism.
The Raiders have no lease for a stadium for next season after NFL owners earlier this month shot down their plans to move to the Los Angeles area. The team is negotiating a short-term extension with officials in Oakland and Alameda County but is also looking for a permanent new home to replace the outdated Coliseum.
Sands owner Sheldon Adelson has scheduled a Friday meeting with Raiders owner Mark Davis. Reese didn't elaborate on the nature of their discussions and the Raiders declined comment.
Adelson's company includes the Venetian and Palazzo hotel-casinos on the Las Vegas Strip as well as casinos in Macau, Singapore and Pennsylvania.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval commissioned a tourism infrastructure committee to screen ideas to attract more visitors and ''nothing will move that needle like a new world-class stadium,'' Reese said in a statement about the development, which was first reported by Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston.
Oakland is trying to arrange a plan to build a new stadium at the Coliseum site but the city has no firm plans or funding in place, even with an additional $100 million pledge from the NFL after the owners' vote earlier this month.
The Raiders have an option to move to Inglewood with the Rams at their new stadium if the Chargers decide to stay in San Diego. Davis also has looked at San Antonio and could look into moving to San Diego if the Chargers leave and he can negotiate a new stadium deal with officials there.
Las Vegas has been overlooked by professional sports franchises because it is home to legalized sports betting. But Reese said Las Vegas now draws more revenue from non-gambling entertainment than betting and fears of match-fixing are outdated.
''This town is about so much more than gaming at this point,'' Reese said. ''We think that stigma is a thing of the past.''
UNLV officials sounded an optimistic tone about a potential partnership, but noted that nothing was final. The school recently purchased 42 acres near the urban campus and close to the Las Vegas Strip. UNLV has longed to build a stadium closer to campus than where the Rebels now play at Sam Boyd Stadium, nearly nine miles away.
''If a public-private partnership can be formed that includes the development of a new special events stadium with little or no cost to UNLV - and we have access to use the facility - then it would be of great value to us,'' UNLV president Len Jessup said in a statement.
Several efforts to bring a stadium to Las Vegas have fallen through in recent years, largely over resistance to publicly financing the projects. The latest ambitious sports venue in the area - the 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena set to open in April - was privately funded by casino company MGM, a Las Vegas Sands competitor.
Support from Adelson, who's consistently ranked one of the world's richest people, could mean a better fate for the latest proposal.
''Projects like this need a lot of very, very strong leadership - a lot of conviction, a lot of focus, and great resources,'' said Craig Cavileer of Majestic Realty, the project's development partner. ''Certainly Sheldon and his team have proved time and time again that they produce great projects.''
Associated Press sports writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report from San Francisco.