By ALAN SNEL
It’s not often a stadium authority board member leaves his seat on the dais and addresses his fellow committee members from the audience microphone designated for the public to use.
But at a recent Las Vegas stadium board meeting, member Ken Evans wanted to make a point to his fellow authority panel members who are overseeing the construction of the $1.9 billion Raiders stadium along Polaris Avenue on the west side of I-15 at Russell Road.
Evans’ message from the public microphone instead of his board seat mic was clear — make sure the local Las Vegas community, especially small businesses, benefits from the millions of dollars in contracts that will be awarded to subcontractors, companies and professionals who will help build the Raiders stadium scheduled to open in 2020.
And make sure the process of awarding the contracts is fair and transparent, Evans advised.
In an interview this week with LVSportsBiz.com at the Urban Chamber of Commerce, Evans said he wants to make sure there is diversity and inclusion in the companies that will be awarded the lucrative contracts by the Raiders and their general contractors.
Evans, 53, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and a civil engineer, said the community will buy into the stadium project if 15 percent of the dollars are awarded to small businesses and if companies close to home get stadium work.
“You have to make sure that, individually and collectively, all types of businesses must participate,” said Evans, who completes his fourth year as Urban Chamber president in September.
“It’s one of the largest capital improvement projects we’ve seen in this region,” he said. “It will be competitive to get the work.”
The Senate bill that created a hotel room fee increase along the Strip calls for a community benefits agreement between the authority board and the Raiders. The NFL team will receive $750 million in public dollars, but the public will have to raise about $1.2 billion during the next 30 years to pay off the debt from the bonds that will be issued by Clark County in early 2018 to pay for that $750 million.
Las Vegas architect Mel Green, an Urban Chamber member who worked on the T-Mobile Arena project, said the Raiders stadium architect of record — HNTB — is not being proactive and assertive enough to see what local minority architectural firms have to offer the stadium construction project.
“They need to reach out to us,” Green told LVSportsBiz.com this week. “A lot of the small businesses have not been included or contacted.”
Green said he worked on the sky walk that links the New York-New York parking garage with T-Mobile Arena and the escalators that run from the parking garage to The Park area.
Las Vegas businessman and THOR Construction company owner Richard Copeland, who noted he also worked on the T-Mobile Arena project, fears “money is being spent and deals are being cut” without the community benefits agreement in place.
“When we see a stadium of this magnitude without any minority goals, it’s a national laughingstock,” said Copeland, western region vice president of the National Association of Minority Contractors and a member of the Urban Chamber. “We’re systemically excluded from the mainstream of these big contracts.”
The 15 percent requirement in Senate Bill 1 only applies to small local businesses in Nevada and does not mention minority businesses. The Raiders and their stadium developer can choose to set minimum hiring requirements should they so choose, but it is not mandated.
Evans said he expects the community benefits agreement to be discussed at the next stadium board meeting July 13.
The Raiders’ contractors, Minneapolis-based M.A. Mortenson Co. and McCarthy Building Cos., of Henderson, met hundreds of prospective subcontractors, professionals and service providers at a vendor meeting in Henderson last week.
“People appreciated the fact the meeting was held and that they could get first-hand information,” Evans said.
LVSportsBiz.com called the Mortenson and McCarthey construction companies to get responses to Evans’ and Copeland’s concerns and left messages for officials. But LVSportsBiz did not get a call back.
Oakland Raiders spokesman Will Kiss also did not respond to an email with questions related to Evans’ issues.
“If we follow a fair and transparent procurement system, we’ll produce the results we’re looking for,” Evans told LVSportsBiz.com.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com