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Vegas Diary: Stadium lease deal not a roadblock for Raiders

Norm Clarke
VSiN columnist

March 10, 2017 11:24 AM
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Raiders owner Mark Davis will go to the NFL meetings in Phoenix later this month without a stadium lease agreement in Las Vegas. @USA Today Sports Images

Oakland Raiders officials will go to the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix in a little over two weeks without a Las Vegas stadium lease agreement in their pocket.

That revelation surfaced Thursday at the Las Vegas Stadium Authority’s meeting, but it’s a non-issue, according to board chairman Steve Hill.

Asked if it was realistic to believe the NFL owners would approve the Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas without all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted, Hill said, “I certainly think it’s a realistic proposition.”

Why?

“It’s the NFL’s decision, so I don't want to speak for them,” he said.

But, he added, “There’s been some indication and in the Raiders’ own statement, they feel like they’re moving toward a vote at the end of March, so I believe them.”

Echoing Hill’s optimism was Mark Arnold, counsel for the stadium authority board.
“There are no major stumbling blocks out there.”

The lease agreement is about 75 percent completed and won’t be wrapped for a couple more months, Hill said.

A big step in the process, Hill said, was the Raiders’ announcement earlier this week that they secured a loan agreement with Bank of America.

Hill said the stadium board will “work expeditiously to get that lease done, but I do want to say we’re not going to rush that process. We certainly are not going to shortcut that process in any way. That’s not wise and it is not what we are going to do.”

The Raiders need 24 votes from the NFL’s 32 team owners in Phoenix to greenlight the relocation request.

Bank of America is financing $650 million of the proposed $1.9 million, 65,000-seat project, with the Raiders contributing $500 million. The remaining $750 million is coming from the state of Nevada, after the state senate approved the bill last year. It represents the largest approved public subsidy to build an NFL stadium.

Goldman Sachs had pulled out as Sheldon Adelson’s financial partner after the billionaire casino mogul withdrew after issues arose with the Raiders.

Members of the Raiders front office didn’t attend the meeting. Instead, they sent an attorney to report on the business discussed by the nine-member board, which spent much of its time on lease details and stadium development issues.
 
KYLE BUSCH REMEMBERS ‘THE BIG MECCA’
Kyle Busch remembers seeing Las Vegas Motor Speedway rise from the scorched desert. That was a big deal for an 11-year-old with big dreams.

Before the opening, Kyle and his brother, Kurt, seven years older, were at the new track site nearly every weekend because they raced at Las Vegas Speedway Park, later named The Bullring.

Construction at the megavenue got underway in 1994. He remembers watching “the grading going on and seeing it all kind of happening. And then the grandstands got built up and the suites.

“I remember sitting in the grandstands and always looking over at the big mecca, which is what we called the big track as it was being built,” he said.

Once the LVMS opened in September 1996, the Busch brothers checked it out.

“I wanted to be able to go out there and compete. I knew NASCAR didn’t have a race date there yet but IndyCar came to town as soon as the racetrack was built and they put on a great show.”

He watched as a wide-eyed teen when Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Tony Stewart competed in the Indy Car event.

“When NASCAR finally came to town I remember going out to the first one and I saw Mark Martin win that one. So it was really neat being a kid, watching it being built and then having the opportunity to race there, still dreaming and thinking about one day being able to compete there.”

He’s raced on the home track 11 times, winning once in 2009. 
 
The scene and heard
My thanks to Danny Funt for the feature he wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review about my years of covering the Las Vegas celebrity scene. He’s a grandson of Alan Funt, best known as the creator and host of “Candid Camera." You can read it at CJR.com…

Trivia time: The site of the first Indy-style race was held Nov. 14, 1954 on the dirt at Las Vegas Park, now the site of the Las Vegas Hilton. Jimmy Bryan was the winner…

My next guest on “Conversations with Norm” will be Luxor resident headliner Carrot Top. The venue, formerly known as Cabaret Jazz, has been renamed Myron’s Place at Cabaret Jazz. A master of prop comedy, Carrot Top has headlined at the Luxor since 2005. The show starts at 2 p.m. Shawn Tempesta, co-host of the “Morning Blend” at KTNV-TV, Channel 13, will handle announcing duties. Proceeds will benefit the education and outreach programs at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts…

NBA legend Dennis Rodman is hosting Sapphire’s March Mayhem Flawless Bracket Challenge on Monday from 7-9 p.m.

Sightings 
Jerry Seinfeld, in town shooting his hit online series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” He was spotted in a Jaguar convertible with Jerry Lewis, who turns 90 on March 16.
 
The bottom line
“But when it comes to cutbacks, the Coast Guard would bear the brunt, seeing its budget cut by $1.3 billion. The Coast Guard? Who does Trump think protects the waters around Mar-a-Lago, laser-sighting manatees?” – Stephen Colbert.

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