By ALAN SNEL
UNLV’s legal costs to negotiate the use of the Raiders’ new football stadium about two miles west of campus is nearing $200,000.
It’s the price of hiring two high-powered law firms to nail down all the issues that surface when a university wants to use the local NFL stadium for its college football team.
As of today, the UNLV outside legal costs have hit $189,179.33, according to Cynthia Brown, UNLV public affairs director.
Any proposed stadium use agreement will have to go before the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents and win approval before the Las Vegas stadium authority board can get a crack at voting on the deal. The Raiders are building their domed, 65,000-seat stadium on 62 acres of vacant land n the west side of I-15, along Russell Road and Polaris Avenue.
It’s not uncommon for a local university to use an NFL stadium for its football games. For example, the University of Pittsburgh plays at Heinz Field, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ home; Temple University plays at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles; and the University of Miami uses Hard Rock Stadium, the Miami Dolphins’ home field.
In fact, UNLV has checked out use deals at those stadiums to see how they handled issues such as conflicting sponsor signage and who gets revenues from parking, concessions, merchandise and ticket sales on college game days. UNLV most likely will want to keep game day revenue and ticket sales because the Nevada public is providing the Raiders with a $750 million stadium subsidy. The public will have to raise more than $1.1 billion over 30 years to pay off the debt service on the $750 million stadium subsidy.
The University of South Florida also has an agreement with the with Tampa Sports Authority public agency, which oversees Raymond James Stadium, home venue of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. LVSportsBiz.com took a look at that deal and found 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.
The deal also calls USF to 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.
In the UNLV case, however, the university is negotiating directly with the Raiders, not the Las Vegas stadium authority. Raiders President Marc Badain said at a recent Las Vegas stadium board meeting that negotiations between the Raiders and UNLV were bogging down. But Badain said Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak got involved and gave the process a “kick in the ass” to move the Raiders-UNLV stadium use negotiations along.
UNLV officials believed it needed outside legal help to negotiate this deal. So, it 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 UNLV, which gets billed at a rate of $280 to $745 an hour. Meanwhile, Snell & Wilmer has a one-year deal with UNLV and gets billed at hourly rates of $280 to $442 per hour.
UNLV public affairs spokesperson Brown explained the legal bills this way: “. . . utilizing outside counsel with expertise in this area is worth the return on investment given the length and significance of the contract.”
UNLV plans to close Sam Boyd Stadium after the Raiders stadium opens in mid-2020. The university football team is looking toward its move to the Raiders $1.9 billion stadium project to help recruiting.
Not only is UNLV’s football team moving into a new stadium, it’s also going to inaugurate a new training complex late next year. A groundbreaking for the Fertitta Football Complex at the UNLV football practice field is set for Jan. 23. The groundbreaking is closed to the public and open to invited guests only.
Construction of the $28.5 million, 73,000-square-foot training complex is expected to take about 10 months, which means it would be completed in late 2018. The Fertitta family is donating $10 million, while UNLV President Len Jessup successfully drew a state Regents Board approval for a $16 million loan for the football practice facility.
The new training complex will also be used by UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez and other university football staffers to recruit football players to the university.
Follow LVSportsBiz.com on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com