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Nevada lawmakers say little on Las Vegas 51s stadium deal

Elected officials aren’t casting judgment about the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s 20-year, $80 million naming rights deal for a baseball stadium.

The LVCVA approved a deal last week to pay $4 million per year for 20 years for the naming rights to Las Vegas Ballpark, the future home of the Las Vegas 51s in Summerlin.

The price tag is above the norm for a minor league baseball stadium, but LVCVA officials say the arrangement is sound. The LVCVA projected $1.8 million savings per year and $42 million over the life of the contract. Savings come from annual losses that will grow because of capital improvements the agency would face if the 51s remained at the 35-year-old Cashman Field.

One state legislator said the deal’s high cost raises questions, stressing he doesn’t know enough to say if it’s wrong.

Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, and a Clark County Commission candidate, said the issue “does raise questions like other things in Las Vegas where schools are underfunded.”

“My whole focus is schools first and yet it always seems that schools are left behind,” Segerblom said.

But he said he doesn’t know enough about the naming rights issue to definitively say it’s wrong, adding he only knows what he’s read in the newspaper.

“I don’t know about enough about the issue to say this is bad or wrong or whatever,” he said. “The first perception is: How did that happen and why was there no debate over it?”

The issue hasn’t attracted public criticism among state legislators. The Review-Journal contacted all state legislators and only heard back from a few who said they weren’t familiar enough with the issue to comment. Most didn’t respond to emails for comment about the agency’s practices.

Two county commissioners — also Democratic governor candidates — had no criticism of the deal.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said he was told that the LVCVA was paying more to use the aging Cashman Field.

“From a business point of view if that’s the case it (the naming rights deal) makes a lot of sense,” he said. “They basically cut their losses.”

Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said she learned of the deal when she saw it in the news, and that she didn’t have enough information to praise or criticize the move.

“(The LVCVA board is) made up of representatives from the public and private sector” she said. “So I would hope the private sector, because of their business acumen, would weigh in, and if there were real business issues we would hear from them on that.”

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands Corp. operates the Sands Expo and Convention Center, which competes with the LVCVA-operated Las Vegas Convention Center.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2904. Follow @BenBotkin on Twitter.

Review-Journal staff writer Michael Scott Davidson contributed to this story.

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