If Sheldon Adelson and the Raiders Want to Build a Stadium in Las Vegas, They Should Pay For It

"Go Team Go" is a bad argument for publicly-financed stadiums.


A sucker's bet.
BrokenSphere/Wikimedia Commons

Nevada legislators will meet this week in a special session called by Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), in large part to consider raising Las Vegas hotel taxes as a means of coming up with $750 million that the government will then hand over to Las Vegas Sands—Sheldon Adelson's casino corporation—to build a new stadium for the National Football League (NFL)'s Raiders franchise.

As noted previously here at Reason, the public's financial commitment to the stadium will dwarf what Adelson's group ($650 million) and the Raiders ($500 million) will invest in the real estate project, and the private companies who will benefit from the public investment are on record saying they will not share their profits with the public.

Seems like a bad deal, right? But it's not only a common arrangement, it remains a popular one.

In a column in today's New York Daily News, I write:

An unhappy fact to absorb on any given Sunday: The widespread faith in the financial benefits provided to communities that subsidize privately owned and infrequently used sports stadiums persists despite nearly universal evidence that no such benefits exist.

Even in a country where the political winds have shifted against other types of corporate welfare, stadiums keep getting built with local money and federal money, in big towns and small, backed by Republican and Democratic politicians.

No place is safe from the lure of the "Go Team Go" philosophy of economic stimulus, and the taxpayers wind up the big losers.

Supporters of the proposed Vegas deal insist that because only hotel taxes will be raised, the public is not really on the hook for the $750 million. But, I note, "that's not how tax coffers work":

Public funds should pay for public works: schools, parks, libraries, police equipment, infrastructure. In other words, things the public doesn't have to pay $100 or more every time they want to use them.

Politicians like to sell the idea that you can't put a price on civic pride. But Nevada officials would never tell the Raiders that they must grant free admission to anyone with an ID proving Vegas residency. The public-private investment is a decidedly one-sided affair, all under the pretext that 19,000 jobs will be created.

That is, as they say in Vegas, a sucker's bet.

Read the whole thing here, and read more Reason coverage of publicly-financed stadium boondoggles here.

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    1. My best friend’s sister makes $95 an hour on the internet . She has been out of a job for six months but last month her check was $14750 just working on the internet for a few hours. Go this website and click tech tab to start your work… This Web…

  1. Sugar,corn,dairy,football,baseball hockey,basketball,soybeans,peanuts,solar,wind Musk,. All welfare queens. And all you hear is how Wall Mart and the Koch’s are raping America.

    1. A few example. Imagine how long it would take to list all welfare queens!

      1. I don’t have that much time. I’m watching football , drinking beer and eating black bean and beef chilly .

        1. I know what you mean. I am watching RedZone. Ham, Turkey, Swiss sandwich for me with an ice cream sandwich chaser. Put in OT on the elliptical this morning. Alcohol would just put me to sleep.

          1. It’s football Sunday and beer is the drink that gladdens the heart.

            1. Tonight with Giants-Packers.

            2. Hillary has to be cursing that they scheduled this debate against Sunday Night Football AND the MLB playoffs.

              Odds of Trump breaking down in tears and confessing his crimes are about even with having a psychotic breakdown and urinating on the moderator.

          2. I’ve got a pork belly wrapped around a pork tenderloin like a big roll with garlic and spring onions in the center.

            I brined it overnight and now it’s smoking at 220 in pecan wood on the pellet grill. About 6 hours total.

            Beer is included as I watch the Cowboys and monitor Reason Fantasy Football hoping I can make it to 3 and 1.

            Life is good.

  2. “Supporters of the proposed Vegas deal insist that because only hotel taxes will be raised, the public is not really on the hook for the $750 million. But, I note, “that’s not how tax coffers work””

    I am glad to see you finally mention that the taxes for the stadium won’t be paid by local taxpayers but by tourists. That’s progress!

    But you still seem to be missing a crucial piece of the puzzle.

    “Public funds should pay for public works: schools, parks, libraries, police equipment, infrastructure. In other words, things the public doesn’t have to pay $100 or more every time they want to use them.”

    While it might be true that UNLV football fans wouldn’t attend games for free, UNLV is a public school. People may pay tuition to go to school there, but it’s a public school anyway. And while this stadium will be used for Raiders games, it will also be used for UNLV football games.

    Have any of your articles mentioned anywhere that UNLV–a public school–will be using the stadium for their football team? UNLV will be getting a football stadium for free–the only people paying for its construction will be the Raiders, a casino operator, and tourists from out of town.

    If we were to say that there is no public benefit to this stadium, that would be wrong because UNLV is a public school–and it’s getting a new stadium for free.

    . . . and that means free of charge to the taxpayers of the State of Nevada.

    1. UNLV already has a stadium.

      Although I will say that Las Vegas and the Raiders do make an aesthetically-pleasing combination.

      Brothers in plunder forever.

      1. Sam Boyd stadium is so far away from the campus that none of the students hardly even know where it is.

        Suffice it to say, UNLV administration believes that taking UNLV to become a better school requires a legit football team and a legit stadium.

        I’m not saying he’s right or wrong; I’m saying that’s what they’re saying.

        I will say that some schools are bringing in two to three times per year what the teams cost in expenses:

        And that’s just directly from football revenue. That doesn’t include halo effects–what it does for trusts, donations, etc.

        I mean some schools, like Cal Berkeley, would have great schools despite having shitty teams that never have any hope of getting anywhere. UNLV isn’t Cal.

    2. This ignores the possible impact on tourism and the opportunity cost of using taxes for private benefit. If it’s possible to raise taxes on tourists with absolutely no impact on locals, why didn’t they already do it? Perhaps because raising hotel taxes might impact the level of tourism, which impacts locals. But if one assumes no impact on the local economy, then using those taxes for a stadium means they can’t be used to fund government services.

  3. I’ll play devil’s advocate here. What are the opportunity costs of the stadium? In other words, what will the state do with the cash if they don’t blow it on this platinum-crusted elephant?

    They aren’t going to give it back to us, or not to spend it at all. They are going to spend it on more money for bureaucrats who will use it to attack us and steal our freedoms. Perhaps they’ll use the money on more military-surplus goodies for cops that they’ll use to shoot our dogs. Or maybe, they’ll just give it to someone like Solyndra for a green boondoggle that will make our electric bills go up along with our taxes.

    This seems to be one of the more innocuous uses of tax dollars, and it does provide a non-explicit utility (certainly not $750 million worth, but at least it’s not a negative value).

    1. Attacking us and stealing our freedoms is free. If you know what you’re doing, it’s even profitable.

    2. They aren’t going to give it back to us, or not to spend it at all.

      This concerns a new tax, not an allocation of existing tax funds. States can, and do, decide not to raise taxes all the time.

  4. Much like Donald Trump talked about raiding the genitals of unwilling women, which eclipses any nonsense about emails, which I don’t even understand.

    1. Hey,a rich guy bragging abut all the pussy he can get almost never happens. Most men never talk about the women they bang. When I’m golfing or hunting with my friends we talk about our feeling

      1. feelings and Hillary. We always talk about Hillary when out with the guys.

        I didn’t hear anything in that Trump video that most guys I have been around would say if they were rich and the assholes that they are.

        Funny things is women say wacky sexist shit but they are too sly to get caught via mic.

        1. Women talk about personal things, including sex, about 1000x more than men do. But when men talk about those things, it’s because they’re sexist.

          1. I was out to lunch with 5 women one day. The shit that came out of their mouths was just fucking crazy. And these were all women who would be considered relatively mild. I had to say more than once,,,excuse me, I am sitting here.

        2. Women are hateful to each other too. They don’t have close friends like guy. Too damn jelly.

          1. I used to work for an organization that was about 90% female. Wow, cat fights were a daily thing.

    2. Except Trump’s incorrigible stupidity and terrible policies aren’t accounted for in your analysis.

      1. True,and Hillary’s are as bad or worse and then there’s Bill’s history. Of course that was just about sex,well,and perjury and Hillary’s war boner and lies and stupid economic plan.A pox on all their houses.

        1. Still trying to figure out how Bill’s history is Hillary’s fault.

          1. It was her methods of covering up that are repulsive.

            All raped women are to be believed unless they are accusing her husband and then they are trailer trash.

            If you weren’t so disingenuous you would admit why it’s partially her fault.

        2. Hillary’s policies are terrible. I agree. And Trump is right there with her on most of them.

      2. By all means, let’s talk about that.

  5. So does this mean that it will be illegal to be on the Raiders, just like UNLV?

    1. I think the Raiders are likely to get more static from the NFL than they are from Nevada state legislature.

      The NFL doesn’t want a team in Las Vegas for myriad reasons. They already have enough problems with 23 years old multi-millionaires; setting dozens of them loose in Las Vegas is just begging for headlines.

      Hell, even rappers who stay out of trouble at home get in trouble when they go to Las Vegas.

      And it’s real easy to lose all your money and find yourself in debt. Football players typically have a problem with money management anyway. But when you find yourself in debt in Las Vegas, and you’re a football player who can steer the outcome of a game, there are lots of people who can think of an easy way for you to pay off your debt.

      At a time when the NFL is hypersensitive about its image, the last thing it wants is a team moving to Las Vegas.

      Meanwhile, the Raiders will need the approval of the the other NFL owners to move, and the Raiders have had an acrimonious relationship with the NFL since Al Davis’ early days. I think he opposed the merger ’til the day he died.

      1. “At a time when the NFL is hypersensitive about its image”

        And there you have the problem. These are professional athletes, entertainers, NOT role models for your chiilins.

        But maybe there is someone living in LV who can give Mark Davis a proper haircut? Not that it would really matter, Al’s wife should not have been screwing around with retarded Klingons.

        1. And yet when Janet Jackson shows everyone her pasties at the Super Bowl, America goes apeshit and wants the FCC to act.

          1. The chillins were traumatized.

      2. I thought that Was the case as far as the NFL was concerned, no team in Vegas, ever. So why are they trying now?

        1. Because the Raiders can’t get a new stadium elsewhere, but they can get one in Las Vegas.

  6. Thousands sign petition to publicly hang man accused of sexual assault, death of 9-month-old girl

    But that’s not the real story. The real story is that if you visit the site you’ll see this:

    Petition has been closed

    The petition you are trying to access has been removed from the site per our Moderation Policy, because it was in violation of our Terms of Participation.

    It seems that “Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” but you sure as hell can TOS it.

    1. Frankly, if the allegations are true, hanging is too good for him. Emasculation and crucifixion might do the trick?

      1. If doing so could discourage just one baby rapist-murderer, Gloria Steinem would agree.

  7. Meh. The Raiders should stay in Oaktown, because who else would want to go there? If the Raiders beat SD today, like they should, they’ll be 4-1 for the first time since 1690.Raaaaiiiiddddddeeeeerrrrzzzzzz!

    1. LV is too small to support an NFL team by itself, and I doubt the Raiders relish the idea of having a stadium mostly populated by the visiting team’s fans, which is what would happen if they’re relying on tourists.

      They should split the season between Vegas and Salt Lake City, just like the Packers used to do with Milwaukee and GB. Those two cities should be able to get along, don’t you think?

      1. I think they should stay in Oakland.

        1. They belong there

  8. The late Jack Kent Cook,owner of the REDSKINS ,built he stadium with his money. He refused public finance ,didn’t belive in it.When he died,the family had to sell to pay the death tax. FYTW.

    1. “When he died,the family had to sell to pay the death tax. FYTW.”

      Well, that’s what happens when people are so ungrateful to their savior government. Deplorables I assume.

      1. He should have bought one of Buffett’s life policies sold just for that purpose.

        It’s why Buffett supports the death tax after all.

  9. Supporters of the proposed Vegas deal insist that because only hotel taxes will be raised, the public is not really on the hook for the $750 million. But, I note, “that’s not how tax coffers work”:

    Opportunity cost is hard.

      1. xoxo my beloved stalker

          1. Hilarious. You’re like one of Pavlov’s dogs.


              1. It worked!


  10. We’re getting the same line in San Diego- “you’re not paying for it, the tourists are”. I would hope that Las Vegas, it’s main industry being tourism, would see that for what it is and not be fooled.

    1. Yep. Nobody realizes that the higher hotel taxes just force hotels to charge lower prices.

      1. WUT?

    2. San Diego and Las Vegas have some of the lowest hotel taxes of any major city in the country. They’re both at around 13%.

      Houston is at 17%, New York at over 15%, Chicago near 17%, San Francisco at over 15%, . . .

      That makes more sense for San Diego, probably, to have a lower tax on hotel stays. As important as tourism is, it’s still not the most important part of San Diego’s economy. San Diego has defense and biotech, etc.

      If you’re not taxing hospitality in Las Vegas, you’re not taxing much, and Nevada has it written into its Constitution to limit taxes on mining.

      Anyway, even if they implement this stadium plan and the hotel room tax, Las Vegas will still have lower taxes on hotel stays than their competitors–and tourism is by far the most important industry.

      I have to say, I prefer sales taxes to every other form of tax both on a moral and economic efficiency standard. It’s the least intrusive and most voluntary form of taxation possible, and because it’s subjected to market conditions on sales, it brings market discipline to questions of taxation. They can’t raise sales taxes too high without killing the goose that lays the golden eggs, and when the goose starts choking, there’s no blaming racism and the selfishness of rich people for it.

      1. Sales taxes are racist and regressive because poor blacks have to pay more of their income in sales taxes than those rich white people who can save.

        1. They also drive down retail profits and wages for the people who work in that industry, who also tend to be lower income.

          I’m no Bern-feeler, but a tax system that disproportionately sits on the backs of the poor is just wrong.

      2. It’s the least intrusive and most voluntary form of taxation possible

        You’ve apparently not seen the spectacle of street vendors getting shaken down by NYC cops.

        1. You’ve apparently never seen a commercial real estate developer being audited by the IRS.

    3. I should add, . . .

      Back in the day, when I got out of high school, I used to check IDs at an Australian themed night club in the gas lamp district. Back then, the gas lamp district was a shit hole. It looked like the old burned out downtowns of the east coast.

      That all changed after they put in the new ball park.

      San Diego is a terrible example of stadiums gone wrong. In fact, that park was such a success in wiping out what little blight San Diego has, that other cities might not have put up stadiums were it not for San Diego’s success.

      I know a new stadium for San Diego is unpopular in San Diego–and it should be. What Petco did in transforming the area around is fucking amazing, but San Diego is unusual. You’re not going to get that outcome everywhere else or maybe anywhere else. I don’t know–is there a shitty part of Scottsdale?

      1. post hoc ergo propter hoc much?

        1. “In the end, the City of San Diego paid $301 million of the $474 million cost for the ballpark. By 2007 (three years after the ballpark opened), redevelopment projects worth approximately $4.25 billion had been completed, were underway, or were planned. Of these, $4 billion was privately funded. The previously blighted area was well on its way to a dramatic redevelopment.”

          “San Diego Padres: PETCO Park as a Catalyst for Urban Redevelopment”
          Stanford Graduate School of Business

          Every troll has their quirks. Tulpa’s is about being willfully obtuse and running around with the goal posts. With Shrike it’s hyperpartisan banter without cause, audience, or explanation.

          Bo’s quirk appears to be about rushing in uninformed where angels fear to tread. I have never seen a troll who was both as adamant and as uninformed. It seems to be mutually reinforcing, too. The more uninformed Bo is, the more adamant he is. And Bo is so uninformed about so much.

          He’s a brave ignoramus, and when other people know what they’re talking about, it always comes to Bo as a surprise. Not that he learns anything from the experience.

          1. That’s still post hoc ergo propter hoc, even with the grad school letterhead.

            1. Yeah, I’m sure redevelopment of the blighted area associated with the park had nothing to do with the redevelopment of the blighted area the park was built in–is that what I’m supposed to say, you moron?

      2. Is there still a truly shitty part of San Diego?

        I remember when Hillcrest was a shit hole.

        I’ve taken tours of Chula Vista that look like KB developments everywhere.

        There’s part of the area around Oceanside, but we’ll invent carbon free forms of free energy before we figure out how to keep hookers away from a Marine base.

        There’s still El Cajon.

        1. Were there stadiums built in all these areas?

          If not, then that calls into question your claim that the stadium was the cause of the de-blighting of the area it was built in.

        2. Maybe depends on definition of shitty. Southcrest, shelltown, Lincoln Park, SE area. When we were looking for a house we went to look at a few in the SE area because anything under 400k stood out. After looking around, our agent, who was probably being somewhat careful about saying anything racial and probably exasperated at how long it was taking for us, just flatly stated that in 30 years she’d seen plan after plan for the area come and go with no improvement. We looked at some pretty lousy areas, that was the only place she recommended not buying. Ended up in City Heights, which only half-gentrified before the crash.

          1. I’d say shitty for San Diego is probably pretty good for everywhere else.

            The worst part of San Diego, in other words, is probably a hell of a lot better than the worst part of . . . just about everywhere else.

  11. 4 words, Escondido

    1. Much of Escondido gentrified.

      There’s still that area around Fig.

      But it’s not bad like a major metropolitan shithole bad.

    2. Vista and San Marcos were worse than Escondido.

      I would say that of all the major metropolitan areas in the country, San Diego probably had less blight than anywhere.

      If you only have only one legitimately blighted area left, and it’s surrounded by communities that are way above the national average in terms of disposable income, then wiping that last blight out with a stadium might work.

      I’m trying to think of another community that might have something like that situation, and the only one I can think of is maybe Scottsdale.

      Anyway, point is that just because it worked in San Diego, doesn’t mean it will work that way anywhere else. Broken clocks, twice a day, no one should point to San Diego and say, “Well if they did it, why can’t we”?

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