The controversial plan to build a $1.9 billion stadium in the southern Nevada desert in order to entice the Oakland Raiders NFL franchise to Las Vegas has received support from a trio of the casino industry’s largest operators.
According to a report from the Associated Press news service, Steve Wynn, Chief Executive Officer for Wynn Resorts Limited, joined Jim Murren, Chief Executive Officer at MGM Resorts International, and Jan Jones Blackhurst, Government Relations And Corporate Responsibility Executive Vice-President for Caesars Entertainment Corporation, on Monday to lobby Nevada lawmakers to approve the proposal to build the 65,000-seat stadium.
“This is [an] absolute dead-bang winning opportunity and I hope you will find it in your wisdom to approve it shortly,” Wynn told the lawmakers during a special session called to vet the public financing plan for the proposed stadium, which is being pushed by Sheldon Adelson, Chief Executive Officer for Las Vegas Sands Corporation. “I personally believe that if we lose this opportunity, it will be one of the most heart-breaking mistakes we’ve ever made.”
Wynn told the legislators in Carson City that professional sports would act as a cornerstone for the stability of Nevada tourism while Blackhurst, a former mayor of Las Vegas, declared that the project could take the city to a higher level in terms of tourist appeal.
“We’ve been offered a gift here,” said Blackhurst. “We’ve been offered a gift that takes us from 45 million visitors to 55 million to 65 million visitors.”
For his part, Murren was on hand to counter any ideas that his company, as the largest employer in the state and a major player in the convention industry, would be threatened by the construction of an NFL-sized football stadium and any expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
“You might come to the conclusion that MGM [Resorts International] would be opposed to both of the projects before you,” said Murren. “In fact, the exact opposite is true. We know the entire community benefits when our convention center is full.”
The Associated Press reported that the testimonials are likely to add credibility and political cover to the funding proposal for the planned stadium, which calls for Clark County to commit to at least $750 million raised via a suggested 0.9% hotel room tax. These funds would subsequently be joined by $650 million from 83-year-old Adelson alongside $500 million from Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis, which is to include a $200 million loan from the NFL and the likely proceeds from the sale of the new venue’s personal seat licenses.
The tax increase would require a two-thirds majority in each of the Republican-controlled chambers of the Nevada legislature in order to become reality while the Oakland Raiders would not be able to relocate to Las Vegas without first securing the support of three-fourths of current NFL franchise chairmen.