stadiums

Las Vegas Taxpayers Could Be on the Hook for $750 Million to Fund NFL Stadium

Committee of "casino leaders and elected officials" votes to subsidize Sheldon Adelson and the Oakland Raiders.

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You're gonna pay for this.
bdearth/Wikimedia Commons

Las Vegas and Nevada taxpayers may soon be on the hook for a $750 million handout to a billionaire casino magnate's company, to build a stadium for the National Football League (NFL)'s Raiders and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas' football team.

The crony capitalist cabal known as the The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee—which ESPN describes as comprised of "casino leaders and elected officials"—voted unanimously to raise Las Vegas hotel taxes as a means of financing a brand-new domed stadium. The Raiders, who currently call Oakland (Calif.) home, will contribute far less at $500 million, while Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino owner and financier of failed political campaigns, will contribute $650 million through his Las Vegas Sands corporation.

But lest you think this epic infusion of public dollars to finance incredibly rich people's private vanity projects will eventually benefit the public, ESPN reports that "Officials with the Las Vegas Sands said they don't want to return any profits to the public because they would be making little or no money on the stadium." ESPN also noted that "The Las Vegas Sands said it would walk away from negotiations if the public put in less than $750 million, and the company fought to protect itself from any future taxes targeting the team."

So the public takes most of the risk but won't see the profits, because the casino corporation sees itself making "little or no money" on the project. (This sounds like a perverse inversion of the scene in Lost in America where Albert Brooks desperately tries to persuade the casino manager character played by Garry Marshall that giving money back to wiped-out gamblers would be good public relations for the casino).

In another instance of willful self-delusion, News3LV reports "The committee estimates almost 19,000 jobs will come from the construction of the stadium," a staggering number that will almost certainly never come close to being realized.

The committee's recommendation will now go to the governor and the state legislature for approval. Raiders owner Mark Davis expects the required two-thirds of NFL ownership will approve his team's move to Las Vegas if the stadium deal moves forward.

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  1. Does no one even care that they’re going to have to build a hockey arena?

    1. I think it is already finished.

    1. Is that the long lost fifth Beetle?

      1. Trump cousin.

        Offspring if Ringo married Trump.

      2. He’s clearly from deep in the Monkees’ depth chart.

        1. Been listening to the new Monkees album alot recently. It’s really good.

    2. The haircut is tragic. But he is putting together a decent football team. I loved Al, but this team has been improving now that he’s not thr decision maker.

    3. This story is relevant to that photo, because the man is willing to travel 500 miles for that stupid fucking cut. Also this tidbit-

      Most days start the same ? behind the wheel of a white 1997 Dodge Caravan SE outfitted with a bubble-top Mark III conversion kit, a VHS player mounted to the roof inside and a r8hers personalized plate. Mark Davis pilots this machine from his East Bay home to the nearest P.F. Chang’s, where he sits at the left end of the bar, same spot every time, puts his white fanny pack on the counter, orders an iced tea and unfolds the day’s newspapers. Beside him on the bar, next to the papers, is his 2003 Nokia push-button phone with full texting capability. When someone calls and asks him where he is, he says, “I’m in my office,” and sends a knowing nod to the bartenders. It gets ’em every time.

      1. Idiosyncratic as hell!

        1. The only differences(allbeit large ones) between him and Crusty is the fact that he has hair and several billion dollars of net worth.

  2. Fuck Sheldon Adelson up his wrinkled ass. When he dies I’m holding a party and flying to wherever he’s buried so I can piss on his grave.

  3. Nothing like sports stadium boondoggles to reveal those with principles and those without.

    One of my favorite activities is asking my “conservative” and “libertarian” friends if they’re glad that they’ve been taxed out the ass to build a new stadium that the owners could otherwise have paid for themselves, and the universal answer (if they’re a big enough sports fan)? OF COURSE, CUZ FOOTBALL! (or Baseball, Basketball, even Hockey)

    1. But, but, libertarians are “moderates” and represent the middle. Isn’t that the meme touted here lately? Don’t moderates always agree that there are certain “normal” things the government should do? We all agreed NASA was pretty nifty, and we all hated those Nazi’s, and sports are right there too. Don’t go after the things everybody likes because you’ll alienate so many at once.

      1. So being a moderate means abandoning your principles because something is big with the hoi polloi? Kind of makes me wonder about these undecided voters who will decide this national election.

    2. That’s what I came in here to say.

      I am completely OK with abandoning my anarchist ideals in this instance, because it benefits a team I cheer for. FUCK YOU, taxpayers. You shouldn’t have voted in guys who were going to do this. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    3. I don’t know any libertarians who would say yes, let’s raise taxes for this boondoggle.

      But then, I steer clear of self-declared “libertarians” who aren’t at all, because who wants to be around liars like that.

      1. Except for Gojira, of course. 😉

      2. I would, but then I’d have no friends…

        1. You’re an adult male. Why do you need friends?

          1. That’s what Grinder is for.

            1. 1) I believe there’s no “e” in Grindr.
              2) I don’t know why I know that other than I have a friend who tried Tindr.
              3) I assume I need friends for some natural, social reason, but I can’t articulate a very good argument right now, other than to say that I like being around people, so long as they don’t harangue me with their utter stupidity. I’m married too, and the same applies. I like being around her, but when she starts talking bullshit, I either turn off my brain, leave the room, or tell her she’s talking nonsense.

              1. I think he means sandwich, not buttsecks.

              2. I assume I need friends for some natural, social reason, but I can’t articulate a very good argument right now, other than to say that I like being around people, so long as they don’t harangue me with their utter stupidity. I’m married too, and the same applies. I like being around her, but when she starts talking bullshit, I either turn off my brain, leave the room, or tell her she’s talking nonsense.

                The idea that men don’t have friends is a bullshit trope from our “hyper-masculine” modern culture. Men don’t have “friends” in the same way women do, but if you’re a man and you don’t have people you could call up and hang out with, you’re not more manly, you’re a hermit.

          2. You’re an adult male. Why do you need friends?

            Threadwinner of truth.

  4. Technically, this is just a recommendation to the state legislature to enact legislation, same as any other special interest group making a similar proposal, which could be ignored by the legislature.

    Except for the bribes aka campaign contributions to make this happen.

    1. Ditto. It’s nothing but a cash-grab all around. Thankfully for scumbags everywhere, voters love sports more than they hate getting fleeced.

    2. So… guaranteed to pass?

    3. Think about the 19k jobs!

      If that isn’t enough, think of the children!

    4. Considering Nevada’s closest political cousin is Illinois, there is literally no chance of this not being approved.

  5. You guys need to rethink some of the claims being made here.

    “The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee?which ESPN describes as comprised of “casino leaders and elected officials”?voted unanimously to raise Las Vegas hotel taxes as a means of financing a brand-new domed stadium. The Raiders, who currently call Oakland (Calif.) home, will contribute far less at $500 million, while Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino owner and financier of failed political campaigns, will contribute $650 million through his Las Vegas Sands corporation.”

    If the stadium is being financed by the Raiders, the Las Vegas Sands Casino, and a new tax on tourists staying in hotels, then how could “Las Vegas taxpayers” be on the hook for $750 million?

    Maybe you mean taxpayers staying in Las Vegas?

    From what I see here, we’re not talking about “Las Vegas taxpayers”.

    Just because you don’t like the public funded stadium narrative doesn’t mean every stadium fits that narrative.

    1. Most of the people who will go to Vegas Raiders games are not going to be locals anyway (if many theories are correct), it’s going to be visitors. I’m not exactly sure how this makes higher taxes better though. It’s arguably worse, since it’s not even the people living in that area (many of whom theoretically want the team there), but the people who visit who will be paying, even if they’re not there for football.

      I’ve never been to Vegas, but I imagine that I’d be pretty annoyed if I did that I’d have to help pay for their stupid stadium, because reasons.

      1. Las Vegas – Paradise MSA has about 2 million people.

        There will be plenty of local customers for an NFL franchise.

        How can people from out of town paying for locals be worse than making locals pay for someone else?!

        Let’s turn off autopilot and engage our think-bones.

        1. I’ll repeat – Why should visitors pay? They aren’t necessarily going to games. They aren’t the ones who asked for a stadium.

          My think-bones are working fine, thanks.

          1. If tourists don’t want to pay, they don’t have to.

            They can look at the cost of staying in a hotel in Las Vegas and decide not to pay the tax.

            Regardless, if Las Vegas taxpayers aren’t paying, then they aren’t paying.

            How does a misstatement about who is paying for this stadium morph into an observation about how there shouldn’t be any public works projects and no one should ever have to pay for them with taxes?

            Why are you running around with the goalposts?

            1. I didn’t move any goal posts. I’ve remained steadfast in what I’ve said. I did, it seems, misinterpret your original statement, however, to suggest you approved of this new financing method. See my comments below, but I agree that Reason should be clear about it’s criticism and be accurate with its facts, and your criticism is valid.

            2. And I agree with you (to a degree) about the tourists. But, if fewer tourists decide not to come due to the tax, doesn’t that hurt the locals? Doesn’t that become a negative consequence of the tax at the expense of the locals?

              1. if fewer tourists decide not to come due to the tax

        2. Taxes dont work that way.

          Depending on the elasticity, the tax will be paid in part by the visitor and in part by the hotel. The split depends on the elasticity of demand.

          So locals will be paying in part.

          And dont forget the local multiplier from tourism. On the margin, it makes “not Vegas” a better choice than Vegas for some people. Which reduces the other money they spend in the area that locals benefit from.

          1. “Taxes don’t work that way.”

            Yeah, so, not taxing locals is just as bad as taxing locals?

            Or . . . uh . . .

            Saying that they’re taxing locals is true–despite the fact that they’re not taxing locals–because of the secondary effects of taxation?

            What are we supposed to take from this?

            No matter how you slice it, Las Vegas’ taxpayers are not on the hook for $750 million.

        3. Las Vegas – Paradise MSA has about 2 million people.

          There will be plenty of local customers for an NFL franchise.

          Except that the city is extremely transitory, most people who live there have arrived in the last 10-15 years and usually have have hometown loyalties that lie elsewhere (very few people that live in Las Vegas would describe it as “home” or their “home town”), there is very little sense of overall community since the residential neighborhoods are spread out into the city’s quadrants and insulated from each other. Oh, and guess who takes it in the shorts when tourism takes a hit because people are sick and tired of paying exorbitant stadium taxes on top of existing room taxes, visitor taxes, and “resort fees”? The locals. Guess who’s going to pay the difference when the tax revenue doesn’t meet projections and the cost of the stadium is 20% higher than estimated?

          1. I can report that this is true. Very few of us here call Vegas “Home” even after living here a few years.

  6. “But lest you think this epic infusion of public dollars to finance incredibly rich people’s private vanity projects will eventually benefit the public, ESPN reports that “Officials with the Las Vegas Sands said they don’t want to return any profits to the public because they would be making little or no money on the stadium.”

    Currently, UNLV plays at Sam Boyd Stadium, some 10+ miles to the east of the UNLV campus. It takes a good 45 minutes for students to get there from UNLV. That’s one of the reasons UNLV doesn’t devote itself to football–despite the lack of competition in the area.

    The new stadium would be built on the edge of UNLV, and UNLV would start playing their home games at the new stadium.

    So UNLV gets a football new stadium on campus, they don’t have to chip in any money for it, local taxpayers don’t have to pay for it either, and you’re still gonna say there’s no public benefit?

    Like I said, just because you don’t like the typical publicly funded stadium narrative doesn’t mean every stadium fits that narrative.

    1. Taxpayers are still paying, even if they’re not local ones. It’s the right of the politicians to protect their constituents (and probably the right thing to do), but let’s not pretend that they’re not fleecing anybody… And there are still all those libertarian arguments about the free market, tariffs, etc.

      1. Even though Las Vegas taxpayers aren’t paying for it, I’m supposed to pretend they are?

        There’s this thing called intellectual honesty. It’s a real thing.

        It’s one thing to have misinterpreted something because you weren’t aware of the details.

        Quite another to be made aware of the details and perpetuate a mistruth.

        1. That’s fair. If Reason got it’s facts wrong, I’m in favor of correcting them. I’m just not sure why (if you even do, perhaps you don’t) think it’s better that outsiders are paying for the stadium rather than locals.

          1. Or, if not facts wrong per se, were misrepresenting the facts. Either way, I get where you’re coming from there.

        2. Quite another to be made aware of the details and perpetuate a mistruth.

          And still another to make up your own mistruths about a project in an effort to spin public financing of a stadium as something other than public financing of a stadium because you really REALLY want your pony.

          1. You’re a retard.

        3. Even though Las Vegas taxpayers aren’t paying for it, I’m supposed to pretend they are?

          Btw, if one person in Las Vegas ever decides to take a little staycation at one of the local resorts (which, you may be surprised to learn, has actually happened before), they’re being directly taxed as surely as they’re getting secondarily fucked when they try (and fail) to lay the cost on the tourists. So you’re not just technically wrong, you’re actually wrong.

          1. You think that means local taxpayers will be on the hook for $750 million?

            That’s ridiculous.

            That’s stupid.

    2. Currently, UNLV plays at Sam Boyd Stadium, some 10+ miles to the east of the UNLV campus. It takes a good 45 minutes for students to get there from UNLV… The new stadium would be built on the edge of UNLV, and UNLV would start playing their home games at the new stadium.

      If you consider3 miles away, adjacent to Mandalay Bay, to be “the edge” of UNLV…

      Also, even at rush hour this is not a 45 minute drive.

      1. You’ve got the wrong site, which isn’t surprising. You’re even on the wrong side of the strip. Not only do you have no idea what you’re talking about, you’re also lost.

        The site is the 42 acres between the current basketball venue (on campus) and Koval Lane on Tropicana. It’s across Tropicana from the airport.

        http://www.reviewjournal.com/b…..other-uses

        It’s practically across the parking lot from the present basketball stadium, which is on the UNLV campus. They’re calling it a ten minute walk from campus, but that’s gotta be from student housing on the other side of campus.

        .

        1. Sorry Ken, you’ve got the wrong site.

          That proposed site fell through. It would create a building too high next to McCarren. Southwest Airlines blocked it.

          They are now planning to build the Stadium South of Mandalay Bay on Las Vegas Blvd. They are going to build on the golf course. Billy Walters is the largest owner of the course. The Feds got him on RICO. He is divesting his assets. Typical Vegas.

          So, it’s not going to be on campus. It’s going to be a PITA for students, almost as much as Sam Boyd.

          And, who knows when the nice chaps at TheSands and Raiders start charging facility usage besides getting all the profits from the gate.

          1. Getting into or out of the strip means a 5 minute drive becomes 20 on weekends, but it’s not an hour drive or anything like that. And my ex lives a literal 5 minute walk from Sam Boyd. It’s a 20 minute drive from there to UNLV. It really isn’t that far. Any students who want to go really can.

  7. Las Vegas and Nevada taxpayers may soon be on the hook for a $750 million handout
    . . .
    The Raiders, who currently call Oakland (Calif.) home, will contribute far less at $500 million, while Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino owner and financier of failed political campaigns, will contribute $650 million through his Las Vegas Sands corporation.

    750 + 500 + 650 = 1900

    This stadium is going to cost $1.9 billion??? That’s more than 50% greater than Jerry Jones’s Homage to Self in Arlington costed!

    1. I think the Jersey Jets stadium is up in that region too. Ditto Yankee stadium. All those corporate amenitites don’t come cheap.

    2. Vegas just doesn’t have enough experience building large scale entertainment/event/hospitality facilities?

      But yeah, 2 billion for a modern nfl stadium seems about right. This is the new reality of pro sports in the usa. Get used to it.

      1. And yet, it’s a price that can’t be reached without taxes…

        If it were such a good business decision, it would succeed on it’s own at that price. The investment would be worth it if they were getting the proper return. Sounds to me like these fancy new stadiums are more fancy than can be supported by the finances.

        1. I agree. It would be interesting to see what the price of steel, concrete, glass and (non-union) labor would be for a new stadium. It would also be interesting to see what the price of paying off local, county, state politicos, bureaucrats, organized crime syndicates, unions, and other public interest groups would be.

          I’m guessing it’s a 50/50 split. So, if you want a $1B stadium (steel, concrete, glass, labor) you had better raise $2B cash.

          1. Interesting take. Never thought about the palm-greasing aspect.

  8. The Raiders should just rename themselves the Carpetbaggers and float from town to town. I mean, moreso than they already do.

    1. Maybe,

      But if they want to build UNLV a new football stadium without any financing from the state of Nevada, UNLV, or the local taxpayers, the people of Las Vegas should probably let them.

      I think the real reason professional teams have avoided Las Vegas like the plague is twofold:

      1) The financial incentive to throw games for the benefit of yourself or a big gambler will be tremendous. And it’s easy to blow all your money and find yourself in debt to someone who sees the potential in that.

      2) So easy to get in trouble.

      If you gave me a $1 million signing bonus when I was 22 years-old and sent me to Las Vegas, I’d have blown it all in a matter of weeks–probably much less.

      Everything in that town is set up to separate you from your money and get you in trouble–and the women in Vegas who want to do that to you are fucking irresistible.

      Most tourists survive because they burn through all their disposable income and go home. If you’re a local NFL player, you’re not going home. And you’ve got more money coming in all the time.

      1. But if they want to build UNLV a new football stadium without any financing from the state of Nevada, UNLV, or the local taxpayers, the people of Las Vegas should probably let them.

        It’s a good thing you started that sentence with “if” since it has absolutely nothing to do with what is actually happening.

        1. Well, let’s see:

          1) They’re building UNLV a new football stadium

          2) No financing from the state of Nevada

          3) No financing from UNLV

          4) No financing from local taxpayers.

          Looks like that’s exactly what they’re doing.

          1. Sigh… the money is coming out of local pockets.

            hotel tax… sure. I know that. But, this isn’t the discovery of magic money.

            The money spent though will come out of tourists’ budget for the trip. This means less spent on restaurants, gaming, shopping, shows, and so on. Money doesn’t magically get airdropped. The hotel tax is a ruse to fool economically illiterate, which it seems like it’s doing just fine.

            it also uses political will to pass further taxes. Let’s just look at what the very real alternative was. The other major project was to use this will to up the hotel tax to do renovations/expansions on the convention center. You know, something that actually brings extra tourists to town unlike football stadiums.

            Who would guess the guy that runs a competing convention center, Adelson, would come up with another plan for the additional tax money? Charity on the stadium….hahahahahhha… GMAFB

            What’s worse is this is a big F U to the hockey owner who brought a team to town the right way. The $500M franchising fee is coming straight from Foley’s pocket (likely indirectly through ticket prices to fans who want the product). The T-Mobile Arena was built without a huge usage of tax money.

            Now, the Vegas (likely Knights) hockey club, who did things the right way, will have a large swath of those willing to buy tickets and sponsorships lost to a NFL team and a billionaire owner who got a handout…. ugly cronyism at its worst.

    1. Did he change his name to Ken Shultz?

  9. TheTreasure Island Casino in Vegas are scummiest people to ever work for. They hate their employees. The TI are a bunch of back stabbing bastards. Ruffan is a tight wad. Roaches in the chow hall but all the food the employees get is bread & water. Nevill is
    stinky old fart who dont know sheee it.

    1. Where is the comment from?

  10. I can say that, surprisingly, lots of people here don’t want the stadium. Some for lefty reasons: “those taxes could be spent on the chillens!” Others because they don’t support the Raiders. Others because they hate the raiders. And a small amount because Vegas is an international destination. They figure foreigners don’t watch American Football and the taxes may dampen demand more than they raise it plus take money out of tourists pockets. It’s less than ten matches in a season, but the taxes never sleep. But the people who are unhappy about it for economic reasons are a minority. From the circles I run in, it’s fairly 50-50 between “thumbs up” and “fuck off”.

  11. Why do they need $1.9B for a 63k seat stadium in Las Vegas?

    Look at the recent NFL stadiums:
    MetLife cost $1.6B in New Jersey for 82k seats (opened in 2010)
    AT&T cost $1.3B in Dallas for 80k seats – 105k incl standing room (opened in 2009)
    Levi’s Stadium $2B in Santa Clara for 68.5k – 75k max (opened in 2014)
    US Bank Stadium $1.061B in Minneapolis for 66,655 – 73k max (opened 2016)
    City of Champions – over $2B in Inglewood, CA for 70k – 80k max (in process)

    The 4 most expensive of above were almost all privately funded.
    So, what’s the deal with the Vegas stadium price?
    A cynic might think it’s because anything under budget gets kicked back to Adelson, the Raiders, and NFL. This might be the first stadium to go under. Plus, they are limiting the seats because Raiders might not sell out bigger place. They need to keep demand in a sweet spot above for more Raiders profit. It’s about trinkets for the rich: it’s not about the people of Las Vegas or bringing in additional tourism, which a larger stadium or cheaper stadium would do.

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