By ALAN SNEL
The Oakland Raiders’ march to their new $1.8 billion domed stadium in Las Vegas includes a monthly pit stop before a “public” stadium authority board.
At these public meetings in the Clark County Commission chambers, Raiders President Marc Badain cracks a comment about the team’s opening-game win or wishes a stadium board member a happy birthday — just like Badain did this afternoon during a drowsy two-hour session.
Typically, Badain or someone from the Raiders gives an update on their stadium development at the 62-acre site off Russell Road at Polaris Avenue or makes a request.
And naturally, the stadium board obliges.
Badain didn’t have much to offer Thursday, mentioning that the team was finalizing its stadium financing contribution.
None of the nine members of the stadium authority board — and there are a few with strong opinions — found it necessary to pose a question or comment to Badain. When your community is on the hook to raise $1.2 billion so that you can give a $750 million stadium subsidy to the new NFL team in town, there doesn’t seem to be much motivation to play the role of watchdog.
Most of the two hours passed along in rather boring manner. Stadium board chairman Steve Hill, Governor Sandoval’s right-hand economic development man, moved the agenda items, teeing up a few topics for members to chime in.
But most times, there were few or no comments.
A chunk of these stadium meetings consists of stadium board consultant Jeremy Aguero reading passages of the SB1 stadium law (that he helped write for state legislative approval) and keeping the board on track for meeting stadium deadlines.
The board voted to extend its life from 12 months to 18 months, giving the Raiders more breathing room to fulfill any agreements with the panel.
And the stadium board took a look at a community benefits plan that LVSportsBiz.com first wrote about nearly three months ago.
Board member Ken Evans, president of the Urban Chamber, mentioned the spirit of the community benefits plan called for diversity and inclusion among the businesses granted contracts to work on the stadium. In this case, it will likely mean minority and/or female hiring goals — but that’s to be hashed out between stadium board members and the Raiders. The only mandate in SB1 says that 15 percent of the businesses hired for stadium work must be small businesses based in Nevada.
After spending two hours watching a stadium board meeting, that’s why it’s difficult sometimes to figure out whether this stadium panel made up of nine local business and community leaders represents the public or the Raiders.
Sadly, the rubber-stamping style of the Las Vegas stadium board is not very different from other public stadium panels I have covered as a reporter in Denver and Tampa. These stadium boards are typically made up of local sports boosters and business leaders who believe local sports teams add jobs and spending to the local economy.
But there is some hope that an independent person could aid the Las Vegas stadium board. The panel plans to hire a construction expert to keep tabs on the Raiders’ construction work at the site from November to February 2018, and then enlist a compliance officer to provide a second set of eyes to monitor the Raiders stadium construction process when the meat of the construction begins.
The compliance officer, though, would not be an advocate for the public or the stadium board, Aguero said. That person’s job is to provide “objective advice” on how the Raiders-run construction process is going and “to make sure the stadium board isn’t missing anything.”
Contact LVSportsBiz founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com