Raiders stadium project for Las Vegas clears Nevada Senate in 16-5 vote

CARSON CITY — The Nevada Senate on Tuesday amended and passed a bill raising room taxes in Clark County to help fund a domed stadium and convention center improvements in Las Vegas.

Senators approved Senate Bill 1 on a vote of 16-5, clearing the 14-vote threshold needed to pass a tax increase. The bill now moves to the Assembly.

Tuesday’s action capped the second day of a special session called by Gov. Brian Sandoval to consider the tax hikes and usher in what the Republican governor described as an opportunity to take Las Vegas to a new level as an international entertainment destination.

It also ended a long day of behind-the-scenes negotiations and passionate discussion as critics derided the public financing as corporate welfare and supporters hailed the thousands of jobs the projects would generate.

SB1 raises lodging taxes mostly paid by tourists to help pay for a $1.9 billion domed stadium backed by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson. The 65,000-seat stadium, to be built at a yet to be determined site, is the proposed future home of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and UNLV football teams. Mark Davis, owner of the Raiders, has said he will seek to bring the team to Las Vegas if the stadium is built.

The bill would boost the room tax rate by 0.88 of a percentage point to finance $750 million in general obligation bonds over 30 years. Adelson has pledged $650 million; the Raiders have committed $500 million.

A separate provision would add another 0.5 percentage point increase to fund $400 million of a $1.4 billion upgrade to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Both the Senate and Assembly recessed by sunset Tuesday in observance of Yom Kippur. The Assembly must still vote on a separate bill authorizing the Clark County Commission to raise the sales tax for more police officers. Both chambers will reconvene Thursday.


 


SPIRITED DEBATE

But it was the stadium that sparked the most debate from the public and lawmakers, many of whom questioned why public dollars were being used to fund a project with wealthy backers.

Critics also said Nevada, facing a potential $400 million budget shortfall in the next budget cycle, has more pressing needs for its tax dollars, such as education and human services.

“This is a decision we have to make knowing that somebody’s going to be mad,” Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, said as he spoke in favor of the bill.

He said he was moved by the testimony from laborers and construction workers who’ve struggled to find employment since the Great Recession crippled Nevada’s construction industry.

“It’s not the lobbyists who persuaded me,” he said of his yes vote. “It’s my constituents.”

State Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, said multiple concerns with the bill prompted his no vote.

“It was bad public policy overall,” he said. “We’ve seen in many, many studies that stadiums are not good public policy.”

Kihuen said another concern was giving a $750 million “taxpayer handout to a multi-billionaire who can easily pay for this from his own pocket.” Kihuen is running for the 4th Congressional District seat held by Republican Cresent Hardy.

Two years ago, Kihuen backed a publicly funded soccer stadium in downtown Las Vegas. “As I mentioned in my remarks, I am not against public-private partnerships for stadiums,” he said.

The subsidy for the soccer project was far less, around $50 million to $100 million, and did not involve a subsidy for a billionaire, Kihuen said.

Democratic Sens. Julia Ratti of Sparks and Tick Segerblom of Las Vegas also voted no, as did Republican Sens. Pete Goicoechea of Eureka and Don Gustavson of Sparks.

Supporters pointed to the $620 million in annual economic activity the stadium is projected to generate, along with thousands of jobs it’s expected to create.

State Sen. Patricia Farley, R-Las Vegas, initially questioned using tax dollars to fund the stadium project, but supported it because of the opportunity to bring “thousands of jobs” to Southern Nevada.

“I do rise with a divided heart, but I’m going to cast my vote as yes,” she said. But Farley and others who voted in favor of the bill urged their colleagues to remember Nevada’s other needs when distributing tax dollars in the 2017 legislative session that begins in February.

PROJECT MANDATES

The bill was amended to include a mandate that at least 15 percent of subcontractors hired for the projects go to local small businesses. In addition, it requires a stadium community oversight committee to ensure diversity in the project workforce.

The amendment also removed $4 million in annual room tax proceeds that would have been funneled to Clark County police. Lawmakers are debating a separate measure to raise the sales tax to hire more officers for Southern Nevada.

The decks cleared for the stadium and convention center bill on another front Tuesday when the Republican members of the Assembly, meeting behind closed doors in a caucus, rejected a proposal to hold up the measure until education savings accounts were addressed.

A number of lawmakers wanted to consider a short-term funding solution to get the ESA program up and running in the special session after a court ruled the program was constitutional. But Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, who pushed the suggestion in the meeting, said the effort failed.

Without the ESA issue in play, the focus of the special session continued without any other distractions.

Economic development and Nevada casino power brokers on Monday praised the legislation as a bold step needed to ensure Nevada remains a top global tourism and convention destination.

Critics had their turn Tuesday and denounced the proposal and lawmakers for rushing the process to appease wealthy backers.

Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani argued the convention center improvements were “hijacked” by Adelson to force a vote on both projects.

“There’s something very, very flawed with this,” Giunchigliani said in public testimony.

“Let the people who have the money build it. Don’t put us on the hook with (general obligation) bonds.”

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

Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3821. Follow @SandraChereb on Twitter. Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.

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Drew Las Vegas to open in the second quarter of 2022
The 67-story Drew Las Vegas is slated to open in the second quarter of 2022 at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NAB Day 1 (Time Lapse)
NAB kicked off at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
National Association of Broadcasters Show shows 1mm thick 8K TV with 22.2 channel digital sound
Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories booth featured a 1mm thick 8K TV system used in conjunction with a 22.2 channel digital sound system at the National Association of Broadcasters Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada shoppers react to Smith’s no longer accepting Visa credit cards
On March 1, Smith’s announced that it would no longer be accepting Visa credit cards at any of its 142 supermarkets, including the 45 in Nevada.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission asks how long Wynn executives knew about misconduct
Business reporter Rick Velotta gives an update on the adjudicatory hearing on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its gaming license in Massachusetts.
Henderson app developer part of Startup in Residence
Henderson based developers of the app On Point Barricade are taking part in Startup in Residence, a North America program dedicated to pairing tech companies with governments. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sam's Town employees and customers talk of their love for the iconic casino
Longtime Sam's Town employees and customers love each other and love their casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas apartments rents
Las Vegas’ apartment market has accelerated in recent years. Developers are packing the suburbs with projects, landlords are on a buying spree, and tenants have filled buildings.
William Boyd talks about the birth of Sam's Town
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Sam's Town, William Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming and son of hotel namesake Sam Boyd, talks about how the casino became one of the first local properties in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
High Roller observation wheel turns five
The world’s tallest observation wheel celebrates it’s fifth year on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Escape Room Industry Growing In Las Vegas
Escapology employees discuss the growing escape room industry in the U.S. and Las Vegas. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Impact of parking fees on visiting the Las Vegas Strip
There are no data showing a relationship between Strip resort and parking fees and the number of out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas. But there are data showing a relationship between Strip parking fees and the number of local visitors to the the Strip. ‘’As a local, I find myself picking hotels I visit for dinner or entertainment, based on whether they charge for parking or not,”’ said David Perisset, the owner of Exotics Racing. ‘’It is not a matter of money, more of principle.’’ A 2018 survey by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance found 36.9 percent of Clark County residents reported avoiding parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. 29.1 percent reported avoiding using any services from a Strip casino that charges for parking.
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LVCVA/Boring Company Press Conference
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced a collaboration with Elon Musk's The Boring Company to develop and operate an autonomous people mover system for the Las Vegas Convention Center District.
International Pizza Expo includes green and gluten free
The International Pizza Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center included companies focused on vegan and gluten free, and plant-based pizza boxes. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
International Pizza Expo kicks off in Las Vegas
The first day of the International Pizza Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center is everything Pizza. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
T-Mobile program aids guests with sensory needs
A program at T-Mobile Arena is designed to provide a more sensory friendly experience for guests.
Photo Booth Expo
Danielle May talks about how Simple Booth transformed her Volkswagen bus into a business.
Nevada Gaming Commission's highest fines
The highest fines assessed by the Nevada Gaming Commission, according to commission Chairman Tony Alamo: 1) Wynn Resorts Ltd., $20 million, 2019 2) CG Technology (then known as Cantor G&W Holdings), $5.5 million, 2014 3) The Mirage, $5 million ($3 million fine, $2 million compensatory payment), 2003 4) Stardust, $3 million, 1985 5) Santa Fe Station, $2.2 million ($1.5 million fine, $700,000 compensatory payment), 2005 6) Las Vegas Sands, $2 million, 2016 7) CG Technology, $1.75 million, 2018 8) CG Technology, $1.5 million (also $25,000 in escrow for underpaid patrons), 2016 9) Caesars Entertainment, $1.5 million, 2015 10) Imperial Palace, $1.5 million, 1989 11) Peppermill Casinos, $1 million, 2014
Tiny Pipe Home vs Shipping Crate
A Tiny pipe home was displayed at the International Builders Show this week in Las Vegas.
Auto repair shortage affects Las Vegas
The auto repair industry is facing a national shortage of workers.
Franchising industry booming
Experts say Las Vegas is a hotbed for the franchise industry.
Africa Love owner talks about his store in Las Vegas
Mara Diakhate, owner of Africa Love, gift and decor store, talks about his store in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Developer gets approval to build homes at Bonnie Springs
The Clark County Planning Commission has approved a plan to build 20 homes on the site of Bonnie Springs Ranch. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dig This opens new location In Las Vegas
Remember when you were a kid and played with construction toys in the sand box? Dig This Las Vegas has the same idea, except instead of toy bulldozers, you get to play with the real thing. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
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