Oakland Raiders Las Vegas UNLV NFL Stadium Five Months Behind Schedule, 2020 Opening Impossible
When the construction schedule for what I call the “Oakland Raiders Las Vegas NFL UNLV Stadium” (cause that’s what it is, right now) was released, it called for all final project documents to be approved by October of 2017. Among the written works were the both the infrastructure development agreement, and the stadium development agreement. As of today, January 29th 2018, only one document of the 14 major ones and 32 total has been written, edited, and signed: the lease between the Raiders and the Las Vegas Stadium Authority that was approved at the May 2017 NFL Owners Meeting.
Because of that large number of documents, the much talked about opening date of June 2020 is now impossible to meet. And while neither the Raiders nor Stadium Authority officials will admit to this situation, all anyone has to do is look at the timeline they rolled out last year and compare that to what has been done to this point in time to conclude that the June 2020 opening date mark will not only be unreachable, but the project is five months behind schedule and counting. Moreover, the cancellation of what was to be an extra meeting on January 25th pushed the opening day and year back. Given the economic and political and scheduling problems that have plagued this project from the start, it’s a stretch to believe 2021 is achievable and more realistic that 2022 would be the opening year for the facility.
The main problem is the very idea that an NFL-quality stadium could be opened in just 30 months, when the same builder, Mortenson Construction, built U.S. Bank Stadium in 32 months, and the Atlanta Falcons Mercedes Benz Stadium was finished in 37 months – and that still does not at all address the fact that real construction of the stadium has not started.
That truth flies in the face of the story told to Las Vegas: that the stadium is being built because the Raiders held a ground-breaking. You would not believe the number of people who work on the Las Vegas Strip who swear that the stadium build is underway strictly because of the ground-breaking ceremony! The fact is, only three primary activities are going on: the building of the construction office complex at the south end of the property, the process of making a new drainage channel, in effect moving the old drainage channel, and exploding caliche, the hard material just below the soil which makes installation of the foundation all but impossible unless and until it’s broken up by exploding it underground.
Those jobs aside, there’s no money at all to build the stadium because the Raiders have not done the following: signed the non-relocation agreement, received the guaranteed maximum price from the builder, completed the stadium development agreement, transferred the land to the Stadium Authority, and had Clark County approve the sale of the $750 million worth of bonds.
Once that bond sale happens, it would lead to the first of a series of checks to the Raiders from the bond underwriters (a kind of salesperson) to pay for the start of what it take to get to the real part of making the staidum happen: intall caisons and structural supports to make up the roof support and form the concreate castings for the main seat sections – to name some of what has to be done in making the MANICA / HNTB Architects design a reality.
What’s held up signing the non-relocation agreement? Aside from the political problems associated with an out clause where the Raiders can move from Las Vegas if a special tax is imposed on them for any reason, there’s the racially-charged controversy surrounding the community benefits plan. That, alone, caused the cancellation of the February 25th 2018 meeting – the same one where the non-relocation agreement was to be discussed, again, and the UNLV Joint-Use Agreement that the UNLV Regents approved roughly three weeks ago was to be given the go-ahead by the Stadium Authority.
The Stadium Authority set a new meeting date of March 1st as the day that the stadium development agreement would be introduced. That March 1st day has not been officially added to the website schedule, but there are three other meeting dates on March 15th, April 15th, and May 10th before we see the legal deadline of May 16th. On that day, according to Section 38 of the Southern Nevada Tourism and Investment Act, UNLV President Len Jessup can, if he chooses to do so, petition the Stadium Authority and the Governor of Nevada to take over the Raiders project if the final project documents are not done, signed and approved by all parties.
With all of the uncertainties with that, and I’ve not even started to refer to the stadium hotel tax revenue problem, one thing is clear: you can kiss any thought of a 2020 Raiders UNLV Stadium opening goodbye.