The plan to build a $1.9 billion NFL stadium in Las Vegas is now one giant step closer to becoming a reality.
Nevada governor Brian Sandoval announced Wednesday that he intends to convene a special session of the Nevada State Legislature sometime in October. At the special session, the state's 63 lawmakers will meet to discuss and vote on the $750 million public funding plan for the stadium project in Vegas.
To pass, the plan would need to be approved by two-thirds of Nevada lawmakers (42). Sandoval said that his current plan is to have "a special session no earlier than Friday, Oct. 7 and no later than Thursday, Oct. 13."
Sandoval's announcement of a special session comes less than a week after the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee (SNTIC) voted unanimously to approve $750 million in public money in an effort to bring the Raiders to Vegas.
"After receiving the (SNTIC) recommendations on [Sept. 15], I have thoroughly reviewed the committee's documents and I am comfortable with the recommendations related to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority expansion, additional support for law enforcement, and the development of a county-owned stadium that could host a National Football League franchise," Sandoval said in a statement.
The proposal calls for a 0.88 percent tax increase on hotel rooms located on the Vegas strip. The lawmakers will also look at approving separate tax increases that would pay for more police officers in Vegas and a $1.4 billion upgrade of the city's convention center, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.
The governor's decision to schedule a special session of the state legislature is a huge one, because if that hadn't happened, the group likely wouldn't have voted on the stadium funding until their next scheduled meeting February.
Stadium backers wanted a vote to happen before February because they want Raiders owner Mark Davis to be able to offer a relocation proposal to his fellow NFL owners when they meet in January.
If the legislature were to approve the $750 million in stadium funding in October, that means that the only thing standing in the way of a Raiders move to Vegas would be a vote of NFL owners. If 24 of 32 approved the relocation, then the Raiders would be free to move.
"We can and must usher in a new era for tourism in the Las Vegas market, while keeping our citizens and visitors safe, and ensuring our position as the global leader in entertainment and hospitality," Sandoval said.
The governor also added that he talked to Davis last week and that the Raiders owner "was committed and resolute in the team's interest in relocating to [Las Vegas]."
Although commissioner Roger Goodell has been insisting that the league still wants to get something done in Oakland, that remains a remote possibility due to the financial issues there. The Raiders and the NFL have offered to put $600 million toward a new stadium in Oakland; however, the city has offered zero public dollars for the project.
Oakland still has over $100 million in debt remaining after paying for Coliseum renovations with taxpayer money when the Raiders moved from Los Angeles to Oakland in 1995.
In Vegas, the Raiders would pay for $500 million of the $1.9 billion project. A group led by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson would pay $650 million and then taxpayers would be on the hook for the rest ($750 million).
If the funding in Vegas gets approved, that's bad news for Oakland for two reasons: 1. It's unlikely the NFL would turn down $750 million in free money, and 2. That would only give Oakland a few months to get a proposal together to keep the Raiders if Davis plans on making his Vegas relocation pitch at the owner's meeting in January.
As for Sandoval, he sounds pretty pumped about the prospect of bringing the Raiders to Vegas.
"I am convinced that, given the circumstances and timing with regard to public safety, the Convention Center, and the NFL, there is an opportunity to significantly improve the tourism infrastructure of Southern Nevada -- already the best the in the world," Sandoval said.