Las Vegas Raiders stadium plan passes second major hurdle

Las Vegas Raiders stadium plan passes second major hurdle

Editor's note: The above video is from Sept. 21, 2016.

CARSON CITY, Nev. - A plan to put $750 million in public funds toward an NFL stadium that could house the Raiders in Las Vegas has cleared a second major vote in the Nevada Legislature, despite opposition to a project partly funded by billionaire Sheldon Adelson and a last-minute revelation about associated infrastructure costs.

The Nevada Assembly voted 28-13 to pass a bill that would raise hotel taxes by up to 1.4 percentage points in the Las Vegas area to fund a convention center expansion and build a 65,000-seat domed stadium. The measure needed 28 votes to pass, and Republican leaders who were trying to round up sufficient votes called for a vote Friday morning before lawmakers could have any protracted discussion about the bill.

The measure still needs final approval from the Senate because it has minor amendments from the Assembly, but that's expected to be an easy hurdle. Senators already voted 16-5 on Tuesday to pass the original bill.

"I would like to thank Governor Sandoval, the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, and the members of the Nevada Legislature on this historic day," Raiders owner Mark Davis said in a statement shortly after news of the vote was announced. "All parties have worked extremely hard to develop and approve this tremendous stadium project that will serve as a proud new home for the entire Raider Nation."

"It's exciting,'' said Andy Abboud, chief lobbyist for the casino mogul Adelson's Las Vegas Sands, after the surprise vote. "But this is really about jobs, and I think at the end of the day people saw this as a fantastic economic stimulus package."

Nine Democrats and four Republicans opposed the bill, which made unlikely allies out of people on the far left and far right of the political spectrum.

The project was nearly derailed by a state report published late Thursday, which said the Nevada Department of Transportation wants to accelerate nearly $900 million in planned road work to accommodate stadium-related traffic. Lawmakers, who hadn't been warned about the estimate during routine discussions on the project, said they felt blindsided.


Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster


Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster

The Raiders have a lot of quarterbacks under contract, certainly more than they’ll have come September.

That means the battle to be Derek Carr’s backup should be fierce. EJ Manuel had that title last year, with a shot to retain it after re-signing with the club on Thursday afternoon.

Veteran Josh Johnson signed up Monday, and those two will join third-year man Connor Cook behind Carr on the depth chart.

New head coach Jon Gruden loved Cook coming out of the draft, but the Michigan State alum failed to earn the backup job last season and must make a move up the depth chart to kickstart his career.

Manuel has a strong arm and starting experience, making him a steady and solid backup option. He completed 24-of-43 passes for 265 yards, a touchdown and an interception in two games when Carr was hurt.

Johnson might be a camp arm at this point, though he’ll be given a chance to compete this spring and summer.

Carr has been hurt for at least a small stretch in each of the last two seasons. Having Manuel in that spot might offer stability.

Gruden addressed last year’s backup quarterbacks last month at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Gruden on Manuel: “I think EJ is a young, talented guy,” Gruden said. “He’s been in the facility working out on his own every day. There is a bright upside to him, too, as a young quarterback to keep working with. He’s a free agent, but the Philadelphia Eagles proved that’s a pretty damn important position, isn’t it? Right? So we have to address that and see where we are.”

Gruden on Cook: “I am kind of surprised Connor hasn’t played in two years, other than the playoff game he got in as a rookie. After Derek got hurt last year, they turned the ball to EJ. I don’t know where Connor Cook is. I am frustrated right now that I can’t spend any time with him, but, April 9th (when the Raiders offeseason program starts) will be an exciting day for me and Connor Cook.”

Raiders sign tackle Breno Giacomini


Raiders sign tackle Breno Giacomini

The Raiders need help at right tackle, the lone vacancy along their offensive line. They signed a veteran presence on Thursday afternoon, adding 32-year old Breno Giacomini as the frontrunner to join the starting five.

He has 86 starts in 94 career games, and has been a full-time starter three of the last four years. Giacomini spent 2017 in Houston and the previous three seasons with the New York Jets.

He was a Seattle Seahawk before that, working with Raiders offensive line coach Tom Cable for three of his four years there. Cable gave Giacomini his first chance to start in the second half of 2011, and held the post through 2012.

The bond between the two is clearly strong, considering what Giacomini tweeted shortly after Cable got fired in Seattle.

Coach and player will reunite, hoping to provide steadiness on the right side of the Raiders offensive line.

He’ll compete for a starting spot with Vadal Alexander, second-year pros David Sharpe and Jylan Ware and possibly a drafted player. Giacomini should be considered the favorite unless the Raiders use an early pick on an offensive lineman.

Giacomini has plenty of starts, but his Pro Football Focus numbers aren’t pretty. The analytics says he allowed nine sacks, eight quarterback hits and 64 pressures with Houston last year. He had some decent years under Cable, and a return to that form might push him into the starting lineup for good. Time will tell on that front.