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Arena vote

The notion of building a new stadium or arena in Las Vegas to attract special events and professional sports has been part of the local dialogue for more than a decade. And a facility capable of attracting a major-league franchise would be a huge boost to the local economy, make no mistake.

But many such proposals rely on some form of public financing. At least one such plan — brought forward by casino giant Caesars Entertainment — will be on the ballot in November 2012.

Supporters of the Caesars plan may want to look east to see what they could be up against.

The NHL’s New York Islanders play in a 39-year-old building, the Nassau Coliseum. The team’s lease expires in 2015 and the team’s owner, computer millionaire Charles Wang — publicly sick of sinking more than $20 million a year to keep the franchise afloat — has hinted he may move the team off Long Island unless a new facility is built to replace the coliseum.

This week, a publicly financed plan went before voters.

The usual group of proponents, including labor unions, tourism officials and many business groups, argued the construction project would bring jobs and spark economic growth in the community just east of New York City.

Voters were clearly concerned, however, with the prospect of higher taxes. The proposal went down in a landslide, 56 percent to 43 percent.

“If it was so good, why didn’t the owner pay for it himself?” Mary Beth Molloy said after voting no.

Proponents of Nevada’s sports arena initiative, which would impose a new 0.9-cent sales tax in a special taxing district around the proposed facility to finance a 20,000-seat sports arena on the Strip, may want to consider the Nassau County results as they craft their campaign.

Yes, the oddity of a statewide vote that would impose a tax in only part of Clark County — allowing voters in Laughlin and Tonopah to OK the arena and let someone else pay for it — may help their efforts.

But, increasingly, many voters seem to agree with Mary Beth Molloy.

 

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