By ALAN SNEL
Jo Cato used to work as a Raiders cheerleader years ago.
But now, the financial stakes are much higher as Cato looks to land a public relations and advertising contract with the Raiders and their stadium builders as the NFL team prepares to build a stadium project estimated at $1.9 billion in Las Vegas.
Minority business owners and small business owners in Nevada such as Cato are watching the stadium construction process very closely because contracts valued at millions of dollars will soon be awarded.
And they — like many businesses — want a financial slice of the construction and stadium action.
The state law that guides the construction of the Raiders stadium at Russell Road and Polaris Avenue on the west side of I-15 mandates that 15 percent of the project must be subcontracted to small local businesses in Nevada. There is no mention of minority businesses.
The Raiders want construction to begin later this year and project the stadium would be open in June 2020. (Where the Raiders would play in 2019 is not exactly set.)
Cato is hoping that a yet-to-created “community benefits plan,” as outlined in Senate Bill 1, will include language that addresses the topic of awarding contracts to businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans. The Senate bill does not require the community benefits plan specify a minimum contract requirement for any specific group.
“There’s no mandate (for a specific number) but it is my hope the community benefits plan will speak to that,” Cato said. “My hope is that the document will address the concerns of small minority businesses.”
Here’s the wording from Senate Bill 1 on the community benefits plan: “The developer partner and the Stadium Events Company shall develop a community benefits plan to ensure the greatest possible participation by all segments of the local community in the economic opportunities available in connection with the design, construction, and operation” of the NFL stadium project.
Two construction companies that are partnering to oversee the building of the domed, 65,000-seat stadium, McCarthy Building Cos., of Henderson, and Mortenson Construction, of Minneapolis, met local businesses at a gathering in Henderson earlier this month.
Cato attended the session and recalled a Mortenson representative addressed the issue of diversity in construction contracts.
Cato hopes a stadium community oversight committee, which will charged with making sure the provisions of the community benefits plan is carried out, will serve as part of the checks and balances in the stadium construction process.
LVSportsBiz.com reached out to both Mortenson and McCarthy to comment, but did not get phone calls returned by the construction companies. The Raiders also did not respond to emails to several PR staffers.
Jeremy Aguero, a Las Vegas-based stadium authority board consultant, acknowledged the legislation does not mandate any minority hiring or contract goals but noted, “The developer is certainly free to provide its own goals should it so choose.”
Stadium board member Ken Evans, president of the Urban Chamber of Commerce, expects the community benefits plan to be discussed at the stadium authority’s next meeting set for July 13.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan ASnel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com