Two groups on Monday announced they’re against a proposed $1.9 billion domed football stadium in Las Vegas, the first signs of organized public opposition to a project that will be considered by lawmakers next month.
Anna Thornley, president of the Nevada Taxpayers Association, said in an email to members Monday that the board of directors was surveyed on whether the group should take an official position on the stadium proposal. The survey found 57 percent of the board is opposed to increasing Clark County’s hotel room tax to help pay for the dome’s construction, listing 16 concerns.
The association and Nevadans for the Common Good are among the first organizations to take a public stance against the stadium plan developed by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson, Majestic Realty and the Oakland Raiders. The NFL franchise’s executives have promised to seek relocation to Las Vegas if the stadium is built.
Gov. Brian Sandoval last week said he would call a special session of the Nevada Legislature to consider the stadium’s financing package. This month the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee recommended an increase in Clark County’s 12 percent tax on motel and hotel rooms to fund $750 million in construction costs over more than 30 years. The balance of the project’s cost, as well as any potential cost overruns, would be paid by the private partners.
Among the 16 concerns listed by the taxpayers association: that there are other more pressing needs for room-tax revenue; that no revenue source is under consideration as a backup funding mechanism if room tax revenues underperform; the lack of public profit sharing if the stadium is successful; and no assurances that the Raiders would leave Las Vegas if the stadium were built.
The organization also noted that the proposal comes at a time the governor “has asked state agencies to cut their budgets by up to $300 million to cover shortfalls because other taxes are underperforming.” The association also said there is no evidence that a publicly funded stadium brings any benefit to taxpayers and that there is “significant data indicating that subsidized stadiums can be a detriment to a community.”
“We will work to raise these concerns with lawmakers as we prepare for the special session of the Legislature,” Thornley said in her email.
Earlier Monday, Nevadans for the Common Good, a faith-based organization composed of more than 40 religious and nonprofit groups, announced that it, too, was taking a position against the stadium.
The group, which has tackled a number of social issues including education, immigration and child sex trafficking, will issue a report, “Seven Hidden Risks of the Las Vegas Stadium Deal,” at a news conference Wednesday.
A statement from Nevadans for the Common Good said the report would outline how the proposed stadium deal “involves substantial risk to the public without providing commensurate community benefits.”
“The hidden risks have not been adequately discussed,” the Rev. Marta Poling Schmitt, the president of the organization, said in a statement issued in advance of the release of the report. “We must negotiate a better deal with more substantial community benefits.”
Andy Abboud, vice president of government relations and community development for Las Vegas Sands and a spokesman for the Adelson family on stadium matters, said the project means much more to the community than a football stadium and attracting the Raiders.
“It’s a free country and certainly this organization [Nevadans for the Common Good] has the right to oppose the plan,” Abboud said. “But this is the best possible deal for the public.”
Abboud said the stadium and a $1.4 billion proposal to expand and enhance the Las Vegas Convention Center represent millions of dollars in economic development and new construction jobs.
The convention center improvements also were recommended by the SNTIC — along with a separate Clark County hotel room tax increase to pay for them — and will be considered by lawmakers in next month’s special session.
“A lot of people don’t realize that we’re still at 40 percent unemployment in the construction industry,” Abboud said. “The valley needs this economic stimulus to put people to work at this time.”
The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.
Contact Richard N. Velotta at email@example.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.