Senate, assembly and the governor have all approved $750 million in public spending for Raiders new stadium in Las Vegas. This step effectively subsidises Nevada’s richest man.
Last week the proposal passed both the Nevada senate and assembly, though the last vote was as narrow as you could imagine. With two thirds needed to push it through, 28 members were in favour and 13 against. One opponent more and it would have been stopped.
But with positive outcome in two votes, on Monday governor Brian Sandoval signed SB1/AB1 into law. The new bill grants $750 million in taxpayer money for Oakland Raiders new stadium by increasing hotel tax (it will repay bonds worth $750m). In most simple terms the bill means each tourist visiting Las Vegas would on average pay additional $1.5 per night (based on average hotel price).
Since Sandoval’s decision there are 30 days to create a stadium authority board and 75 days for the board to have its first meeting. The 65,000-seat fully domed arena will most likely see groundbreaking next year.
Money secured, but was it a good deal?
The rapid changes into local tax law raised some criticism, especially when compared to extremely optimistic figures suggested by proponents of the new tax. The stadium is expected to hold 46 large events every year (that’s one almost every week!), while the NFL calendar and university football by UNLV football team will provide barely 16 fixtures combined.
Remaining 30 events would be concerts, non-football sports games and other events. And while proponents suggest a third of all tickets would be sold to tourists, no other NFL stadium got even close to such percentage.
Of course Las Vegas is a unique case in terms of tourism, but the ratio still received quite some criticism. Stanford professor and sports economist Roger Noll became a fierce critic of the proposed public-private partnership, calling it simply a boondoggle of public money.
On the one hand taxpayers will cover less than 40% of the stadium’s entire cost ($750 million out of $1.9 billion), but on the other – the project is crucially ran by Sheldon Adelson, casino mogul whose net worth is estimated at around $30 billion. Adelson will contribute less than taxpayers ($650 million), while key tenants Raiders and the NFL combined will add “just” 500 million. And while the stadium will remain public property, majority of the revenue generated will land in private hands.
Final location to be decided
One of the most important decisions ahead of the new stadium authority board will be selection of the stadium’s final plot. There are two sites currently under considerations. Developers will make recommendations, but the stadium board will have the final say.
Both places are on the south end of the strip (with all the casinos and hotels) and the board will decide whether a 62-acre area northwest of Russell Road and Interstate 15 — the preferred location — or the 140-acre Bali Hai Golf Club, between Interstate 15 and Las Vegas Boulevard, just south of Russell, will be chosen.