Once thought to be a sure thing, the NFL’s move into Las Vegas seems to be tearing apart at the seams.
While Raiders owner Mark Davis and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson have decided that they can’t be friends right now, building a new stadium for the Oakland franchise in southern Nevada has been put on hold. Much of the Las Vegas public holds its breath as they wait and see if another billionaire financier will step in where Adelson departed to fund the project.
This spat has caused a ripple effect across the Vegas Valley as locals mourn losing something they never had. Among other things, a new stadium for the Raiders would likely mean a new home for the Rebels football program. But fear not, UNLV faithful. If Davis keeps his team in northern California, the Rebs could still get a new pad.
The state legislation passed Senate Bill 1 last October giving UNLV some options if the NFL says no to Las Vegas. Under that legislation, the Las Vegas Stadium Authority would have until mid-2018 to attract another professional team with its $750 million in room-tax money.
If the Stadium Authority is unsuccessful in wooing a team and getting the 65,000 seat facility built, UNLV president Len Jessup has three months from the time that effort ends to determine if he wants a facility just for the Rebels. If that’s something UNLV wants to do, there will still be work to be done.
Jessup will have to find $200 million from private funding over two years. If he does, SB1 is triggered, and a public commitment of $300 million is added to the project. The stadium would have to seat at least 40,000.
While a new stadium for the Rebels would surely attract new donors, the money needed is staggering compared to what UNLV currently takes in. The last fiscal year UNLV athletics received $10.8 million in gifts and pledges.
Still, SB1 provides hope for UNLV fans that Las Vegas losing the Raiders does not necessarily mean the Rebels will not be moving into a new home within the next few years.
UNLV has played at Sam Boyd Stadium since 1971.