By ALAN SNEL
After infamous developer Chris Milam took the city of Henderson for a forgettable stadium ride in 2012, selling 55 acres of city land to the Raiders for $6 million Tuesday probably didn’t seem so bad to a city with major league aspirations.
Last night, as expected, the Henderson city council happily sold the land near the Henderson executive airport for half of its appraised value.
In 2011 and 2012, Henderson officials were romanced by a smooth-talking developer from Texas named Chris Milam who promised to build a multi-stadium sports complex near the M Resort and the airport if the city would help him buy the BLM site at a discounted rate.
Milam never did build the sports venues despite his major league promises and ended up getting sued by the city. In the end, Milam settled and agreed to never step foot in Henderson ever again after he tried to sell the BLM land he bought for residential use. The feds ultimately blocked Milam from closing on the BLM land purchase.
But the Raiders? Compared to Milam, they’re a regular silver-and-black knight in shining armor to the Henderson city council.
The Raiders are already here — kind of. Yes, they’ll likely play their games in Oakland in 2018 and 2019. But they have ticket staff on the ground here in the Las Vegas market and are building a $1.8 billion domed, 65,000-seat stadium on the west side of Interstate 15, bounded by Russell Road and Polaris Avenue and throwing the $100 million bone to the city of Henderson in the form of a training center.
The stadium is supposed to open in July 2020, while the training center will make its debut in Henderson months earlier.
Henderson, playing the role of Second City in the Las Vegas market, hungrily snapped up the training center to be built on the 55-acre Henderson site. That site is not much smaller than the 62-acre site across the interstate from Mandalay Bay for the full-fledged Raiders stadium.
Serving up financial breaks is the price of doing business with major league sports teams — especially those of the National Football League. Cities write them off as an investment for economic development.
While the Henderson city land valued at $12 million will be sold for $6 million to the Raiders, that’s chump change compared to the $750 million southern Nevada will be giving the Raiders for the stadium. The stadium authority board is expected to approve selling bonds this year to raise more than $1.1 billion in debt service over 30 years to give the $750 million to the Raiders.
In more stadium approval news, the Clark County Commission today approved a development agreement for the Raiders stadium and on Thursday the Nevada Board of Regents is expected to green light a UNLV-Raiders stadium use deal that will allow UNLV’s football team to play at the NFL stadium starting in 2020. UNLV would then close Sam Boyd Stadium.
Don’t sweat the approval votes, folks. This Raiders stadium train is set to arrive in summer 2020.
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