Part of the city’s aborted soccer stadium plan will go forward after all. And it makes less sense than the deal in its entirety.
The stadium proposal, which committed more than $100 million in public resources in an effort to attract a Major League Soccer franchise to downtown’s Symphony Park, included land, infrastructure, construction subsidies and a parking garage to be funded by a risky, gerrymandered sales tax district. The publicly unpopular plan died when MLS rejected the Las Vegas franchise bid.
But before rigor mortis could set in, the Nevada Tourism Commission harvested an appendage. On Monday, the commission approved the downtown tourism improvement district that will allow the city to build a $25 million, 1,200-space parking structure.
Talk about putting the cart before the horse. Parking without a stadium? Or any other development?
In case city leaders have forgotten, they already have one expensive parking boondoggle under their belts. The Fremont Street Experience garage remains underutilized 15 years after the city spent more than $30 million to build it in the name of redevelopment.
The city would use Sales Tax Anticipation Revenue, or STAR, bonds to build the Symphony Park garage, then pay off the bonds through sales taxes collected largely from the tourism district, which includes an adjacent expansion of Las Vegas North Premium Outlets. Those sales tax revenues would have supported services that city and county residents actually need and use, such as public safety and parks.
But in a city with more free parking than just about anywhere on the planet, government uses tax dollars to build a garage where no one currently needs to park? Good grief.
A report released last week found the city spent $3.1 million on the failed stadium project. The city shouldn’t add to that figure. Put the parking plan in reverse.