By JULIE ANN FORMOSO
UNLV has piled up at least $28,000 in legal fees and assembled a negotiating team of lawyers and university officials in hopes of hammering out a lease allowing its football team to play at Raiders stadium a few miles west of its campus.
UNLV runs Sam Boyd Stadium, the football team’s current home, and keeps all the revenues from that 40,000-seat venue. Sam Boyd Stadium will close after the Raiders stadium opens. The Raiders hope to move into their new Las Vegas stadium in 2020.
UNLV would like to continue receiving its game day revenues at the new Raiders stadium, especially when the public is raising $1.2 billion over 30 years to give the NFL team a $750 million subsidy to help build the $1.8 billion stadium project on the west side of I-15 at Russell Road and Polaris Avenue. Ground could be broken for the 65,000-seat domed stadium later this year.
UNLV’s lawyers declined to discuss the lease deal with the Raiders.
Any proposed lease agreement will have to win the approval of the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents before the Las Vegas stadium board votes on the deal.
To help UNLV negotiate with the Raiders, the university has hired the Park Avenue, New York law firm of Herrick, Feinstein LLP and a local law firm, Snell & Wilmer.
Herrick, Feinstein has a two-year contract with the university, billing UNLV at a rate of $280 to $745 an hour. Snell & Wilmer has a one-year deal with UNLV, charging hourly rates of $280 to $442 per hour.
In its negotiation research with the Raiders, UNLV lawyers have checked out other stadium leases where the university plays at a local NFL stadium. Those examples are the University of Pittsburgh playing at Heinz Field, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ home; Temple University playing at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles; and the University of Miami playing at Hard Rock Stadium, the Miami Dolphins’ home field.
LVSportsBiz.com also received the lease agreement that the University of South Florida has with Tampa Sports Authority, which oversees Raymond James Stadium, home venue of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Tampa Sports Authority-USF lease, last hammered out in May, runs through USF’s 2022 football season and allows USF to renew the deal for 2023-27. It offers a blueprint of what UNLV might want to receive in the Raiders deal, too.
Under the USF lease, the Tampa-based university can use the lower bowl, two club lounges, three of the 16-person luxury suites and one west-side luxury suite.
USF must reserve 12 club seats near the 50-yard line for the Tampa Sports Authority, while USF will keep all revenue from ticket sales. USF must also include a surcharge of 8 percent on every ticket and hand that surcharge money over to the stadium authority.
USF does not have to pay any money to the authority from radio and TV broadcast revenues and will receive 3,000 parking spaces and another 300 for USF staff and media.
USF will also not hold the authority liable from any damage that occurs during USF’s use of the stadium, including parking lot events.
UNLV is also being considered by the Raiders as a possible game-day parking possibility. The Raiders are looking at every parking option in metro Las Vegas because they are more than 10,000 spaces shy of complying with the county standards with only 3,000 spaces on their stadium location.
County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said he opposes UNLV being used for Raiders parking on Sundays because of Tropicana Avenue’s traffic between McCarran International Airport, which is across Tropicana from the UNLV campus, and the Strip.
The Las Vegas stadium board has cancelled Thursday’s previously scheduled meeting at the county commission chambers. The commissioners had planned to discuss the community benefits plan.
The Raiders are building and managing the stadium, while the stadium authority signs off on various agreements with the Raiders that have been approved so far with very little public debate.