By ALAN SNEL
Meet Steve Sisolak.
Officially, he’s a Clark County commissioner whose district includes the new $1.9 billion Raiders domed football stadium on the west side of I-15 at Russell Road and Polaris Avenue.
Unofficially, he’s the Clark County sports commissioner who enjoys hyping the Raiders coming to Las Vegas and the new NHL Golden Knights team debuting later this year.
It’s easy to mistaken County Commission Chairman Sisolak for Clark County Sports Commissioner Sisolak based on his public appearances and breathless comments promoting the Oakland Raiders’ move to Sin City and the $750 million public subsidy to help pay for the palatial sports palace that is scheduled to open in 2020.
A popular Sisolak photo shows the county commissioner wearing a Raiders’ Derek Carr number 4 jersey surrounded by Raiders cheerleaders to announce the team’s fifth round NFL Draft selection at the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign on the Strip in late April. (It should be noted that Gov. Brian Sandoval announced the fourth round selection.)
Sisloak is also a big fan of the Vegas Golden Knights who signed up for season tickets for the newly-minted NHL expansion club. The county commissioner enjoys posting on Twitter announcements about the status of the hockey team’s practice facility in Summerlin besides those Raiders draft day events in Las Vegas.
Sisolak has been an ardent supporter of the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas and even posted a nugget about the hotel room fee revenues designated for the funding of the $1.9 billion Raiders stadium running higher than expected. Public money of at least $750 million is being spent to help build the stadium on 62 acres at Russell and Polaris. The Raiders recently closed on the land deal. (We say “at least” $750 million because the public will pay interest, so the public will actually pay more than $1 billion during the life of the debt service.)
Sisolak — in an interview with LVSportsBiz.com — acknowledges he is a big sports fan of both the Raiders and Golden Knights .
But at issue is that Sisolak is also a county commissioner elected to represent the best interests of the people of Clark County and his county commission job responsibilities do not necessarily including doing the PR handiwork for the NFL and NHL teams.
Sisolak said he sees his county commissioner role as a “facilitator” to help the Raiders make the transition to Las Vegas while also telling the NFL team that it must follow county planning and development rules when it comes to road infrastructure, traffic flow, parking needs and stadium construction.
“There’s a lot of overlap,” Sisolak said of his dual roles of fan and county commissioner.
“There are certain county requirements for development and building whether it’s a hockey practice facility or football stadium that the teams have to comply with. And they’re working on them. I facilitate the process to make make it crystal clear to the sports entities that they have to follow the rules,” Sisolak said.
But Sisolak’s fellow Democrat on the county commission — Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani — said Sisolak is walking a fine line in his two roles as fan and county commissioner.
“There is an issue for being a champion for something and then crossing the line to being an advocate,” Giunchigliani said. “He might want to take a step back and make sure we’re doing our due diligence . . . He put himself out there as the face of the sports person and he has to figure out how he tempers that to do his due diligence. We have an obligation to hold their feet to the fire.”
Giunchigliani said there were rumblings among county commissioners that other commissioners were being ignored in the Raiders hoopla. For example, Giunchigliani said fellow County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly — who serves as chairman of the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority — was not invited to make one of the Raiders draft announcements.
Giunchigliani said it’s up to the county to hold its ground because the Raiders will be pressuring the county to move along construction permits and planning approvals “faster than usual.”
But Sisolak said the Raiders are complying with the county’s requirements, noting the team submitted a traffic and parking plan that includes building a 30-foot-wide pedestrian bridge from the east side of I-15 to the west side of the interstate between Hacienda and Russell roads and widening Polaris to 80 feet.
He said parking will be an issue because the county requires 16,000 parking spaces and there are only 2,400 on site. The county has given the Raiders an extension to come up with a parking plan because nearby landowners have hiked their property prices by 300 percent to 500 percent in the past six months, Sisolak said.
And the stadium will also have a special area for dropoffs, where Uber and Lyft drivers can bring fans to the stadium, Sisolak said.
Sisolak said these parking plans show the Raiders are playing ball with the county and won’t get a break from him even though he enjoyed wearing Carr’s Raiders jersey on draft day.