The Oakland Raiders and The Las Vegas Stadium Authority (which represents Clark County, Nevada) “have a money problem”. Those are the words of an Oakland-based real estate lawyer who did not (yet) want to be named, but said in reaction to the news of the $278 million mechanics lien filed against Clark County Nevada and the Raiders.
The mechanics lien was filed by Merrill Steel and the letter reporting it, and documentation, was presented to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority as part of the agenda for the March 21st meeting. Bradley G. Taylor, a Las Vegas attorney for the law firm of Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani, submitted the mechanics lien on behalf of Wisconsin-based Merrill Steel.
My real estate lawyer source said that “filing a mechanics lien is no small thing. It means someone is demanding to be paid for material and services rendered, and has not been paid. On normal situations, with a project this large (over $2 billion in total costs), you have deep pockets. And there would be a performance bond to cover those costs (so that contractors like Merrill Steel are paid).”
And this post from a local expert named Max Segal, and installed September 1, 2017, called “What Can the NFL’s Move to Las Vegas Teach Us About Lien Rights?” was a warning for organizations doing business with builders of an NFL Stadium in a new city for the first time.
A new stadium can breathe life into a team, and it also provides a huge business opportunity for many construction companies in the area. However, projects like this have a lot of moving parts, and there is more disconnect between the groups who have money that’s funding the massive project, and all the construction companies working on the project who are owed money.
Because of these issues, we’ve put together a guide based on the Las Vegas Raiders stadium project to show Nevada-based construction companies some ways to secure their project payments and make sure that they’re paid all of the money they’ve earned, and that they receive their payments on time.
The documents placed on the website of the The Las Vegas Stadium Authority revealed that a performance bond was, indeed, filed, but it’s total value of $105 million, whereas the total value of work done was $172 million, and only $93 million was paid, leaving $70 million due. And that is not counting the $29,232,743 of “approved change orders” and the $69,876,679 of “pending change orders” or $99,109,423 in change orders placed by Merrill Steel during the course of their work in building the stadium to the point its at today. “It looks like someone wasn’t paid all they were owed,” my real estate lawyer source observed.
Indeed, the Merrill Steel document shows The Las Vegas Stadium Authority / Mortenson McCarthy Partnership presented a total value of the work done, that, when both pending and approved change orders totaling $99,109,423 are added, comes to $278,522,974. Again, $93 million was paid, $70 million is owed, and $8.6 million is contract retention. But, even with that $163 million paid and owed, there’s still and additional $115 million of unpaid work caused by the change orders and thus the lien against the property itself. That comes to a total of $278 million – the value of the lien.
And to complicate matters more for both Clark County and the Las Vegas Stadium Authority and the Oakland Raiders, Merill Steel notes that it has the right to add any future change order values to the lien of $278 million. That means the $278 million lien could increase.
The question is, what caused this problem to fester to this point?
My real estate lawyer source specifically said that I can say the parties have a money problem “Maybe someone didn’t pay the premium on a bond? Whatever, there’s clearly a money problem.”
This vlogger has pointed to two primary sources of that money problem: the less than forecasted revenue from the Clark County Stadium Hotel Tax, and the less than $1 billion in sponsorship revenue secured to date. Attempts to receive answers to this problem are ongoing, but no official has responded yet. Calls to the lawyer for Merrill Steel have, to date, went unanswered.
At the March 21st Las Vegas Stadium Authority Meeting, Don Webb, the Raiders’ construction manager for the Las Vegas Stadium project, said “Without editorializing too much, our steel fabricator who filed that lien has been paid every dollar that they’ve ever billed, so that’s very curious and unusual in my experience. Typically, a lien is filed after you’ve exhausted other remedies to collect that which you are owned. And certainly to allege that you’re owed something that you haven’t even billed is rather creative.”
My real estate lawyer source responded to that by saying “They filed a lien because they haven’t been paid. And do you know what that means? It means they (Clark County and the Raiders) have 60 days to respond by paying them. If they don’t do that, the lien filer can file a lawsuit for payment. This is serious.”
As an update, an East Bay, California Developer remarked that such actions as filing a mechanics lien were a normal, common part of business, and nothing to be alarmed about. “The only time it’s a concern is if there’s a default (in payments owned),” he said. “It’s just there way of letting you know they’re there. Remember the Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge? That had several mechanics liens filed against the State of California against it.”
This may be commonplace, the Merrill Steel mechanics lien, but it’s also revealing. Now, we have a hair under $100 million in Las Vegas Stadium cost-overruns that we didn’t know about before, and that’s just from this Merrill Steel lien action. What else is next?
Don Webb, the LV Stadium Events Chief Operating Officer, has some explaining to do when he writes that “The project remains within its budget” in his February 28th, 2019 report because it’s clearly not operating within its budget with these change orders and their cost inflation results. Webb has to answer for that.
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