Vegas official has some serious questions about Raiders $650 million stadium loan

Although the NFL seems to be cautiously optimistic about the $650 million stadium loan that the Raiders agreed to with Bank of America this week, not everyone feels the same way. 

Less than 24 hours after the Raiders officially announced the loan with BOA on Monday, a report came out saying that the NFL’s stadium and finance committees would likely recommend the team’s relocation proposal to the NFL’s 32 owners at the league’s annual meeting, which will be held later this month in Phoenix (March 26-29). 

One of the biggest things that could possibly hold up the Raiders’ relocation is if there are any holes in their deal with Bank of America. 

So what could those holes be?

During a meeting of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority board on Thursday, Clark County Commission chairman Steve Sisolak touched on a few of the issues that might come up. For one, Sisolak wants to know how the Raiders will pay for the deal.  

“A regularly structured deal on $650 million amortized over 30 years, the principal is $20 million a year,” Sisolak said, via the San Jose Mercury News. “Where are they going to get $46 million a year? I don’t understand this.”

Sisolak used the $46 million per year number because that’s roughly how much the Raiders have to pay if the loan was handed out with a 4 percent interest rate. Not including interest, the loan would cost $21.7 million a year over 30 years. With 4 percent interest, that would tack on another $26 million a year through the first few years, so the Raiders would basically be paying $46 million to $48 million annually using Sisolak’s estimated numbers. 

One of the other questions that Sisolak had about the deal had to do with ticket sales. If the Raiders are going to pay $46 million annually to BOA, what happens if their expected revenues for things like ticket sales don’t meet annual projections?

“The Raiders must have shown some sort of projections that they feel comfortable making a loan of this magnitude,” Sisolak said. “Why is a bank going to take a chance, without that? What if they can’t sell the season tickets? What if they can’t sell all these seats? Who repays the loan?”

Before Bank of America became involved in the stadium deal, billionaire Sheldon Adelson was going to front the $650 million. Before Adelson backed out of the deal in January, Sisolak saw some numbers from Adelson that made him believe a deal with a 4 percent interest rate wouldn’t make sense. 

“Adelson said he couldn’t get a 2 percent return on his $650 million,” Sisolak said. “That is $13 million a year. They must have figured that somehow this stadium is going to turn out a significant amount of cash flow to pay that loan back.”

Finally, there’s the tiny issue that new stadiums are rarely profitable through their first few years. 

“Who’s going to pay for that? Somebody is going to have to cover that,” Sisolak said. 

That “someone” is likely going to be the Raiders, because the state of Nevada has capped the amount of public funding on the project at $750 million. 

The Raiders definitely don’t share Sisolak’s concerns. Although the team wasn’t at Thursday’s meeting, they did offer a statement. 

“Financing for the project has been secured as the Raiders informed the Stadium Authority board that they would in the last Stadium Authority board meeting,” the team said, via the Las Vegas Review Journal

Mark Arnold, the lead attorney for the stadium board, said that collateral for the loan would come in the form of the stadium holding upwards of 50 events per year. 

“The collateral typically is the revenue from what here is called the ‘stadium events company,’” Arnold said, via the Review Journal. “Their net operating income goes to pay back that loan, which probably would include a rent payment from the Raiders to the stadium events company.”

The chairman of the Stadium Authority board pointed out one other obstacle in the move: The Raiders won’t have a lease before the NFL owners meeting in late March. 

If the NFL is uncomfortable with that, the league could potentially push the vote to May, when the league’s 32 owners are scheduled to meet again. 

“We’re hoping [the vote] will happen at the end of March, but that’s for the Raiders and the NFL to deal with,” Hill said. 

In gambling terms, a Raiders move to Vegas seems like a smart thing to bet on at this point, but it’s definitely not a done deal. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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