Las Vegas Stadium: Will Rain, Snow Slow Oakland Raiders Home Completion?

Las Vegas Stadium, the under-construction future home of the Oakland Raiders of the NFL, has been hammered by a series of unusual weather events of late. The question is, will these weather occurences slow the completion of the to-be-NFL-ready stadium?

As the tweet above from last night shows, the Las Vegas Strip was covered in snow, and for the first time in a decade. In fact, that Twitter video includes Mandalay Bay, the same hotel where the Raiders Stadium Cam that captures daily construction progress of Las Vegas Stadium is installed.

According to the ABC News Las Vegas affiliate, the Las Vegas Strip was covered by two-inches of snow, overnight, Sunday:

And Before The Snow, Las Vegas Stadium Was Rained On

And prior to the snow, and just four days before on Valentines Day, the South Valley was drenched with record rains. Las Thursday was just the 29th time in history that the Las Vegas region received over one-inch of rain. Moreover, it had rained the day before, although without the same intensity.

The Las Vegas Review Journal wrote “Other parts of the valley also received more than an inch of rain Thursday, contributing to dozens of crashes, sparking flooding and prompting at least two swift-water rescues in flood channels.”

Regarding the impact of the rain on the construction schedule, News 3 Las Vegas television’s Steve Wolford quoted 872 Laborers union representative Tommy White as saying “it probably gave most of the people on the stadium construction crew a chance to do something a little extra for their significant others for Valentine’s Day.” White also noted that Las Vegas was ideal for construction because there are relatively few rain days.

But that was before the snow on Sunday.

By Monday, it was noted that the five-day stretch of wet weather set a record for the “second most consecutive days with precipitation and the most since September 2013.” And the weather forecast for this week points to another Thursday rain day, and that should point to yet another slow-down in Las Vegas Stadium construction work. But will it cause a total delay in the completion date for Las Vegas Stadium?

That topic is a large point of a controversy that should not be. It’s common for any large-scale project, including stadiums, to have delays and cost-overruns. But, in the case of Las Vegas Stadium, there’s been an effort to avoid one fact: the stadium will not be ready for the entire 2020 NFL Season, which includes the NFL Preseason Games for 2020.

The reason has to do with the constantly moved back estimated date of Las Vegas Stadium completion. When plans for the venue were first announced it was anticipated that Las Vegas Stadium would be finished by June of 2020, and after a three-month-move-in date, ready for the 2020 NFL Season. But later, Las Vegas Stadium Authority Chairman (and now Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority CEO) Steve Hill said his objective was to get all documents and agreements completed and signed by October of 2017 – a time-frame Hill admitted was “aggressive.”

But a combination of events caused that date of completion of all 32 documents and agreements (including the Raiders Lease) to be moved back seven full months, from October 2017 to April of 2018. Many of those documents had to be done before various aspects of the building of the new UNLV Stadium could commence. To compensate, Las Vegas Raiders Stadium builders focused on other matters, like getting the Army Corp of Engineers to approve moving the drainage channel that ran under the north portion of the property.

Las Vegas Stadium Completion Dates Moved Back Several Times Already

All of that caused the Las Vegas Stadium Authority and the builder, McCarthy, to quietly push back the estimated date of completion of the stadium from June 2020 to July 31st 2020 and a point of “substantial completion” – with the word “substantial” not defined to this point.

However, because McCarthy did not include the three-month-move-in-date in its reported time estimate, the media made the assumption that the date of stadium completion was the same as the date the stadium would be ready to play an NFL Game. There’s a vast difference, which the “three-month-move-in” date was intended to capture.

Adding the “three-month-move-in” date brings opening day to October 31, 2020. And if a 90-day move in time is realized, that day is mid-September of 2020. The question becomes this: would the Oakland Coliseum JPA agree to a split lease option for 2020, allowing the Raiders to play in both stadiums that year. Right now, the talk is no – but no official word has come down to this point in time.

Atlanta Falcons Serve As A Model For How To Handle Stadium Delays

The time difference between the date of moving into an NFL Stadium, and the date construction crews finish building it, are commonly vast. In the case of the Atlanta Falcons new stadium, the stadium completion date was moved back several times between March 1, 2017 and July 30th, 2017 – the opening day for crowds was August 26th 2017. The primary reason for the delay was, as Steve Cannon, CEO of Atlanta Falcons parent company AMB Group and Arthur Blank, Falcons Owner, put it then, was the “complex roof design” and the problems it presented.

Still, and because of the careful and also transparent way the Atlanta Falcons handled the situation, what is now called Mercedes Benz Stadium has been in operation for two years, and already hosted the MLS Soccer Championship, the SEC Championship, College Football National Championship, and Super Bowl LIII.

As they say “slow and steady wins the race.”

Stay tuned.

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