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Clark County Commission won’t take stance on Las Vegas stadium issue until questions are answered

Questions raised by two Clark County commissioners about a proposed NFL stadium prevented the body from taking a stance Tuesday on the $1.9 billion project.

Commissioners discussed the stadium and other recommendations from the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee for more than an hour before deciding to reconvene if Gov. Brian Sandoval calls a special legislative session to consider the plans.

The commission’s reasoning: As of now, the proposals are outlines of what the infrastructure committee hopes to accomplish. They are not bills with specific details lawmakers could vote for or against.

“This was written by non-legislators, without the help of past legislators to write it,” said Steve Sisolak, County Commission chairman and an infrastructure committee member. “The theory was the LCB (Legislative Counsel Bureau) would straighten this out and send it back to us.”

The stadium plan calls for a dome with 65,000 seats, funded by a public-private partnership that would bring the NFL’s Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas. A 0.88 percentage-point increase in Clark County’s hotel room tax would finance $750 million in construction costs. The family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson, Majestic Realty and the Raiders would finance the remaining $1.15 billion as well as any cost overruns.

Sisolak strongly supports the stadium project and spent most of Tuesday’s meeting answering commissioners’ questions.

A barrage of questions came from Commissioners Marilyn Kirkpatrick and Chris Giunchigliani. Giunchigliani said it was the first time the commission had discussed the infrastructure committee’s actions.

Sisolak answered their questions. The remaining four commissioners were near silent on the matter.

Kirkpatrick said she had issues with the proposed seven-member stadium authority board that would have oversight and management of the project.

“If the governance of the board is not right to begin with, everything else falls apart,” she said.

Kirkpatrick said she would prefer that the board’s members were elected. The committee has suggested three governor-appointed members, two commission-appointed members and two members appointed by the stadium authority to represent the public.

“It gives a lot of authority to one group of folks to determine … how the dollars are spent, all of those leases that are created early on, and a lot of the protections I think we need as a county on the bonding are done by somebody else without any input from us,” she said after the meeting. “None of that said they had to live in Nevada. There was a lot of detail left out on who can actually sit on that authority.”

Kirkpatrick added she wanted to see language guaranteeing Nevada workers the bulk of the jobs created by the stadium project.

Giunchigliani, who has opposed public financing for the stadium, said she needed more information about the proposed hotel room tax increase. The commissioner added that she would rather see Adelson put his entire $650 million stake into the project before the county began paying.

The project’s initial $100 million is so far proposed to be paid with private funds.

“If they want it, they should afford to pay for it,” Giunchigliani said.

Commissioners on Tuesday canceled a special meeting to appoint two members to the Assembly, scheduled for Wednesday morning, because of concerns it might violate the state’s open meeting law.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477- 3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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