- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2016

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Business executives who want to bring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas met with northern Nevada lawmakers to get them up to speed on their plans and scout sites for a potential training camp in the Reno area, in case the Nevada move goes through.

Raiders executives met with legislators on Wednesday to explain their proposal, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal (https://on.rgj.com/2biw8eb ). A 65,000-seat, domed stadium is expected to cost $1.7 billion to $2.1 billion, and backers have called for $750 million in public funding toward the project - likely from a hike in Clark County’s hotel room tax.

Critics say stadium backers at the Las Vegas Sands casino company and Majestic Realty are asking too much of the public. Lawmakers would have to approve any plan to raise hotel room taxes to finance the venue.

“I was skeptical of this whole thing for a variety of reasons, but the more I hear about it the more I like it,” said Assemblyman Ira Hansen, a Republican from Sparks who said he’s now leaning toward supporting the stadium. “The main thing is it’s going to be funded by room taxes, so, essentially, no citizens in Nevada will have to pay for it.”

Democratic Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson said she appreciated the meeting, but still has concerns.

“This would be precedent setting in a lot of ways and I don’t want that to be lost on people,” the Reno lawmaker told the newspaper. “What we did for Tesla and for Faraday were abatements. They were taxes that were never assessed and never collected. This is creating a tax revenue stream that will specifically benefit one project.”

Landing the Raiders is far from a done deal. Stadium backers are still trying to secure a suitable site, and need to hammer out a financing deal with an oversight committee before the plan goes to the governor and perhaps the Legislature.

Any Raiders relocation from Oakland would need approval from three-quarters of NFL owners, who are expected to meet in January.

Sands executive Andy Abboud said Raiders officials went on the scouting mission this week to see if they could bring some element of the NFL action to the northern part of the state.

“First, they’re looking for an opportunity to have a training camp that works for them in terms of weather. Reno seems like a logical place for that,” Abboud said. “Secondarily, they understand the importance of maximizing the Raiders coming to Las Vegas statewide. This may be an effective way where there could be a benefit to northern Nevada.”

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Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, https://www.rgj.com

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