Southern Nevada committee to work on funding $1.4 billion stadium

When the 11-member Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee begins work Thursday on how to pay for a $1.4 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium, it will try to piece together a funding strategy that will keep everyone happy with their return on investment.

Don’t count on that being an easy task.

And don’t count on the stadium being a done deal.

Some critics of the stadium proposal already have made their position perfectly clear — don’t contribute a single dime of taxpayer money toward a project that’s bound to generate profits for developer Las Vegas Sands Corp. and the Oakland — or is it Las Vegas? — Raiders.

The pro-stadium side is equally passionate. An indoor football stadium is a genuine need that can boost Southern Nevada’s tourism economy, they say. Southern Nevada is missing out on many entertainment acts and athletic events because of the lack of a large venue.

A new stadium also would solve a longtime problem that has vexed the University of Nevada, Las Vegas: the lack of a stadium close to campus that would boost student support and advance the prominence of an athletic program with major-conference ambitions.

Attracting the Raiders to Las Vegas, in the eyes of supporters, would be icing on the cake. The venue can be a success without an NFL tenant, stadium backers say. But it sure would be nice for Las Vegas to join that elite club of cities that have a team in the nation’s most popular team sports league.

Steve Hill, director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and chairman of the committee tasked with forwarding recommendations on tourism infrastructure improvements to Gov. Brian Sandoval, said the financing package is so complex that he expects at least two more meetings after Thursday’s session to complete it.

OPTION CALLS FOR 54-46 SPLIT

When Las Vegas Sands and Majestic Realty rolled out plans to build a stadium on 42 acres just east of the MGM Grand at Tropicana Avenue and Koval Lane, they hired Conventions, Sports & Leisure International of Plano, Texas, to guide the committee through possible financing options.

Bill Rhoda, president of CSL, has presented details of those options and has shown how stadium developers in other cities have financed their projects.

CSL has worked on 31 professional football stadiums since its founding in 1988, including the new homes of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings. Closer to Las Vegas, the company also worked on Aces Ballpark, the minor league baseball stadium in downtown Reno.

On the table in Las Vegas is a public-private partnership calling for $750 million from the public and $650 million from the private sector, or a 54 percent-46 percent split.

From the private partners would come a $500 million contribution from the Raiders — $300 million of that in the form of a loan from the NFL — and $150 million from casino operator Las Vegas Sands and Majestic. The exact sources of the $750 million in public money remains unsettled. That’s where much of the detail work remains.

The key question: Is the deal fair to all parties?

Rhoda identified 46 annual events at the stadium if the NFL is in the mix. They include 10 home NFL football dates (two preseason and eight regular-season NFL games), six UNLV football dates, two college football bowl games (including the current Las Vegas Bowl), two neutral-site college football games, two soccer events, four rugby events, three motorsports events and one top-draw boxing or mixed martial arts event.

How the country’s newest professional football stadiums were financed

Click the numbers below to learn more about each location

 

 

 

 

 

 

Levi’s Stadium

Santa Clara, California

Capacity: 68,500

Completed: 2014

Cost: $1.3 billion

Private funding: 99%

Public funding: 1%

University of Phoenix Stadium

Glendale, Arizona

Capacity: 62,400

Completed: 2014

Cost: $439.7 million

Private funding: 68%

Public funding: 32%

AT&T Stadium

Arlington, Texas

Capacity: 80,000

Completed: 2009

Cost: $1.3 billion

Private funding: 64%

Public funding: 36%

NRG Stadium

Houston, Texas

Capacity: 71,054

Completed: 2002

Cost: $449 million

Private funding: 57%

Public funding: 43%

US Bank Stadium

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Capacity: 68,500

Completed: 2016

Cost: $1.1 billion

Private funding: 55%

Public funding: 45%

MetLife Stadium

East Rutherford, New Jersey

Capacity: 82,566

Completed: 2010

Cost: $1.6 billion

Private funding: 100%

Public funding: 0%

Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Atlanta, Georgia

Capacity: 75,000

Completed: 2017

Cost: $1.5 billion

Private funding: 84%

Public funding: 16%

Source: Convention, Sports & Leisure International, Plano, Texas

Gabriel Utasi/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

Hill said the number of events staged will drive the economics.

“Do we think we can get to 46? What we’ll probably do is carve 10 events out and see what that looks like and then carve another 10 out and see what that looks like,” he said. “We have to stress-test the model, maybe take it from 46 to 20 or somewhere in between and get a range of potential outcomes.”

Guessing right on the number of events the stadium could hold is critical to determining return on investment and whether the amount of money plowed into the facility would be worth it to taxpayers, who stand to see less money available for schools, roads, parks and other projects tax revenues currently support.

But the upside would be more money for those needs and projects if the stadium does what proponents say it will.

ANSWERS NEEDED BY JULY 31

CSL estimated an average turnstile attendance of 40,000 at those 46 events, resulting in an estimated 1.8 million visitors and 845,000 new hotel room nights.

The CSL report noted that spending by visitors at events consists of in-stadium spending on tickets, concessions, merchandise and parking, as well as out-of-stadium spending on lodging, food and beverage, shopping, entertainment, transportation, gaming and other services. The report estimates per-capita out-of-stadium spending by overnight visitors at $642 per person per day, and 65 percent of out-of-stadium visitor spending is considered “net new” — it would not be spent without the presence of the stadium.

When the committee meets Thursday, it will dig into four pages of detailed questions the group wants answered before buying into public stadium support. Among them: Is the UNLV site an appropriate location? What portion, if any, of the cost should be paid by the public? What happens if stadium revenues fall short? Is it reasonable to expect 46 events per year?

The committee is working toward a July 31 deadline to make its recommendations. A $1.4 billion Las Vegas Convention Center expansion project and several transit proposals are also under consideration.

“I think wrapping something up (on the stadium) before July is not possible,” Hill said. “I’ve even asked the committee to reserve a date between the June and July meetings to continue to work on it.”

In addition to determining whether the existing tax structure pencils out as a wise return on investment, the committee probably will look at whether the Legislature should be asked to increase tax rates on existing services. Committee members already have indicated they have little appetite for bumping up taxes that would directly affect local residents, especially because locals would pay more through the live entertainment tax if a stadium is built.

WHERE DOES BURDEN FALL?

In theory, generating tax revenue through hotel room and rental car rates shifts most of the burden to visitors, though residents occasionally rent vehicles or land in resorts for “staycations.” But for entertainment events, there is no chance for locals to dodge the live entertainment tax currently imposed.

County hotel room and car rental tax revenue is expected to climb, as would their corresponding state revenue: sales taxes, gaming taxes (officials anticipate sports fans would tend to gamble) and the state modified business tax, since new employees would be hired if the stadium is built and an NFL team were to relocate here.

There appears to be room to increase the room tax. Between the state and the county, the hotel room tax is at about 12 percent, just under Orlando’s 12.5 percent rate and Phoenix’s 12.57 percent. And it’s well below New York’s 14.75 percent rate, Dallas’ 15 percent, Chicago’s 16.39 percent and Houston’s 17 percent.

Committee members also could ask the Legislature to form a tax-increment district. The boundaries of a special tourism taxing district would be open to debate. Would it include only the stadium site’s 42 acres or would it include property around it? And if so, how far from the stadium would the district extend to grab revenues from businesses that would benefit from proximity to the stadium?

The CSL report suggested a TID to last 65 years and feed a stadium authority, which would operate much like the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, to build and manage the facility.

The committee will also look at how new stadiums have been funded. They include:

■ U.S. Bank Stadium, which this year will open as the home to the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. About 45 percent of the 68,500-seat stadium’s $1.1 billion budget is being covered by taxpayers, with Minneapolis residents seeing a half-percentage-point increase in the sales tax and as much as a 3 percentage-point boost in taxes on liquor, lodging and restaurants through 2046. The state also authorized a tax exemption on construction materials for the stadium, which is also exempt from property taxes.

■ Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, where the public is contributing only 16 percent of the cost of the $1.5 billion, 71,000-seat home of the Atlanta Falcons, to open in 2017. The Georgia General Assembly in 2010 approved the extension of a 7 percent tax on motel and hotel rooms through 2050 contingent on 39.3 percent of the revenue being used to build the stadium.

■ Levi’s Stadium, home to the San Francisco 49ers and host of February’s Super Bowl 50, cost $1.3 billion to build and seats 68,500. Only 1 percent of the cost was publicly financed. The city of Santa Clara, California, contributed $11 million. Prepayment of luxury boxes supporting a Goldman Sachs-led loan from 17 lenders covered most of the bill.

Examining those projects and others may generate new ideas, but the core issue in Las Vegas is whether the stadium plan is fair and whether the public will share the benefits if the stadium is a roaring success.

“This should be a business conversation, an economic conversation,” Hill said. “So far, what we’ve talked about is more conceptual than getting into real detail — what’s the projected return on investment from the private side and what’s the economic benefit to the community for the public side and how to determine the definition of ‘fair’ and, separately, ‘smart?’”

“I think what you’ll find is that if we get 40 to 50 events, the stadium becomes pretty lucrative for everybody involved. We have to ask the question about the potential for the public to share in the upside. Early on, they (developers) said no, but that needs to be aired because the truth is that if it’s very successful, the return on investment will be very high. It would help to buy down the public investment.”

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

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find him on Twitter: @RickVelotta

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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)
Town Square developer Jim Stuart building again in Las Vegas
Las Vegas’ real estate bubble took developers on a wild ride, something Jim Stuart knows all too well. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
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