Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s push for a publicly subsidized soccer stadium lost steam Friday when Councilman Bob Coffin said he will vote against the city stadium agreement with two private partners, while Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian said she is “very, very concerned about the amount of taxpayer funds” going to the project.
Coffin joins Councilman Bob Beers in opposing the proposed deal for a $200 million stadium, which would house a possible Major League Soccer team in Symphony Park in downtown Las Vegas.
An agreement between the city and the partnership of The Cordish Cos. and Findlay Sports &Entertainment shows the private partners will contribute $44.25 million (22.1 percent) to the $200 million stadium, while public dollars will be $155.75 million (77.9 percent).
“I’m not comfortable with the arrangement. The cost of the stadium could be too high. It can be built less expensively,” Coffin said. “I like the idea of a soccer, multipurpose venue, but I’m worried about the partnership.”
The nonbinding agreement will be up for a City Council vote Wednesday. If the council approves the nonbinding deal, the city’s governing body would vote on a binding agreement in December.
Tarkanian did not go as far as to say she opposed the soccer deal as Beers and Coffin did. But she said of the agreement, “This one I have a concern about … The deal is a lot of money. I have to be cautious about it and I want to be objective about it.”
Councilman Stavros Anthony said he wants to spend the weekend listening to residents’ opinions about the deal. But he noted, “So far, people who have contacted me have overwhelmingly opposed it. Most of the people don’t want money spent on the stadium.”
Although Beers and Coffin plan to vote against the nonbinding deal, Councilman Steve Ross said he will vote for it.
“It’s a great place to start a discussion. But there is a lot of work to do,” Ross said. “Let’s get it on. Let’s get the community involved.”
Councilman Ricki Barlow could not be reached for comment. Ross and Barlow traveled with three city officials to watch a recent MLS game in Portland, Ore. Insiders said Barlow is expected to join Ross and Goodman in supporting the stadium deal.
Findlay Sports &Entertainment Managing Partner Justin Findlay acknowledged the city is assuming the financial burden upfront because the city can get better interest rates on the bonds than he could on loans to finance the stadium.
But Findlay said the agreement calls for the Findlay-Cordish team to pay $3.5 million in annual rent to the city and also $500,000 annually in nonsoccer revenue for the first 10 years and then $1.5 million annually for the next 20 years.
To show that the stadium and team would generate enough money to fulfill the Findlay-Cordish financial obligations to the city, Findlay released projected stadium revenue and operating costs.
Meanwhile, the city would contribute $3 million a year from hotel room tax revenue.
Findlay insisted that if you add up all the repayments that Findlay-Cordish will make to the city for the 30 years, the private contribution to the project would account for 59 percent. The city’s public relations staff has hyped the 59 percent number in a statement and on social media such as Facebook and Tumblr this week.
“We’re not getting credit for what we’re proposing,” Findlay said Friday. “We took on more than what we really wanted to. It’s a commitment we’re making.”
Findlay said the private partnership is also paying the $102 million it will take to draw a team from Major League Soccer, which is looking to expand to 24 teams and has only one expansion team slot left. Las Vegas is competing against at least five other cities for that final franchise. The stadium would be built only if the MLS awards a team to Findlay-Cordish.
A breakdown of the projected stadium revenue and operating costs based on 20 annual MLS home games shows:
■ Revenue totaled $23.86 million, including $10.46 million for ticket and suite sales (based on 18,000 attendance); $8.3 million for sponsorships such as naming rights and signs; $3.7 million for concessions and merchandise and $1.4 million for parking and special events.
■ Operating costs were projected at $22.69 million, translating to an estimated operational income of $1.171 million — in line with the Major League Soccer team average of $1.25 million (not counting Seattle and Chivas USA franchises), according to Findlay’s data.