A compelling rationale for a new arena

To the editor:

Geoff Schumacher’s Friday column, “Just say no to tax support for arena,” may strike a populist chord, but it overlooks the facts.

The entire Las Vegas gaming industry is built on special taxes levied on visitors to support an industry that employs 150,000 Clark County residents. These taxes do not fall on local residents and therefore have absolutely nothing to do with the financing for other causes that Mr. Schumacher rightly points out need support.

But to confuse a 0.8 percentage point increase in the resort corridor sales tax rate with the need for funding for a hospital is either terribly naïve or flatly misleading. It would be equally misleading to say that the budget of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which comes from room taxes paid by tourists, should be brought to zero to fund all of the causes he considers more meritorious.

Harrah’s proposed arena is not “taxpayer supported” in the way that term is commonly understood. Fire departments, schools, UMC and the courts are all “taxpayer supported” in the conventional sense. The proposed arena, television ads asking New Yorkers to come to Las Vegas and brochures about the convention center are supported by taxes on tourists for consumption of tourist activities. These taxes are fundamentally different in structure and incidence and should not be described as alike in any sense. Further, Harrah’s is not advocating the re-allocation of existing revenues to support its arena proposal.

On the other hand, the conventional sources of tax revenue that Mr. Schumacher champions are dependent on employment and activity in Las Vegas generally. The existing arenas offer no new construction employment, are incapable of attracting a pro sports team and will almost certainly lead to the loss of the National Finals Rodeo to the new stadium in Dallas. But a new state-of-the-art arena can address all of these issues, resulting in new sources of traditional tax revenues to support the very causes he mentions. One centrally located on the Las Vegas Strip would also benefit not only our properties, but those of our competitors as well, by attracting new visitors to professional sports and entertainment events.

Although Mr. Schumacher’s heart is in the right place, he has failed to consider the compelling rationale for a tourist-supported arena. If he wants to rail against using Nevada taxpayer money to subsidize private construction, he should consider the hundreds of millions in construction credits at CityCenter that will be taken out of the Nevada state treasury and transferred directly to MGM Mirage and Infinity World Development Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Dubai World — an entity of the government of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Gary Loveman

Las Vegas

The writer is chairman, CEO and president of Harrah’s Entertainment Inc.

Arizona power

To the editor:

The people of Arizona have spoken: They want their borders secure from illegal aliens as well as having all illegal residents, regardless of national origin, leave the state. Not only is it Arizona’s right to protect its borders, it is our federal government’s mandate.

Recently I rode my motorcycle from the California border to Cabo San Lucas and back. I stopped at the border and purchased a visa for $37 and the required Mexican insurance. Between the border and my destination there were four checkpoints. At each one, my “papers” were checked before they waved me through. The ride back was the same.

No big deal. It’s their country, their rules, and I was a guest.

It is very depressing to find the president of Mexico at the White House criticizing Arizona and the entire United States because citizens want to enforce the laws of the land. It is more depressing seeing and hearing our highest elected government official agreeing with his guest and adding additional criticism of his own.

Our elected officials have forgotten who they represent. Those same officials continue to look the other way while legal citizens pick up the financial, social and political tab caused by allowing illegal aliens to remain.

Carl Munger

Las Vegas

Bet on Vegas

To the editor:

Everywhere we look today, people are losing their jobs, banks are broke, businesses are closing and bankruptcies or foreclosures are an everyday occurrence. Our homes are now selling for 60 percent less then they did in 2005, and the Las Vegas unemployment rate is 14.2 percent.

And yet, 30 years ago everything was much worse for Las Vegas. I moved here in the winter 1979, and for the next 10 years Las Vegas was considered dead. By 1985, most of our hotel casinos were more than 30 years old and falling apart. The Rat Pack days were gone. There was a huge recession in America that all but stopped home building in Las Vegas, and the new kid on the block, Atlantic City, was siphoning off our East Coast gamblers.

Despite all this, Las Vegas did not give up. In the 1980s we expanded the airport and the convention center. We added the Fashion Show mall, The Lakes, and much more.

Beginning with the opening of The Mirage in 1989, Las Vegas never stopped building and getting better. We now have the most concentrated, first-class entertainment city on Earth. Nowhere in the world will you find this much of everything in one place — and it’s safe, clean, beautiful, accessible and affordable.

We have fantastic people living in Las Vegas, and we are very unique. Our city will thrive once again. If anything is sure, it’s change. America’s economy will recover, our home prices will increase and our community will continue to grow and get better.

So don’t worry, be happy that we’re Las Vegas.

Cary De Grosa

Las Vegas

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