Talk of a special session of Nevada’s Legislature to consider a proposal for a 1.4 billion football stadium on or near the UNLV campus and the use of public funding is premature said elected state officials.
Before that can happen, there are issues that need to be resolved including efforts to expand the Las Vegas Convention Center and its funding and whether or not light rail should be an option for public access to the domed 65,000 seat stadium in Las Vegas. The most daunting issue for several lawmakers, however, is the expected public share of the project’s cost, which is an estimated $750 million from taxi rides, tourist taxes on hotel rooms, and car rentals to help with funding.
In April, Mark Davis, the owner of the Oakland Raiders, told the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee that he was committed to relocating the team to the city of Las Vegas as well as contributing $500 million to be used in the construction of the stadium if the legislature approved a public-private financing plan. The project will be discussed again Thursday when the infrastructure committee meets again. Among other parties, the project is being backed by Wynn Resorts Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn and Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.
A huge Raiders fan and season ticket holder state Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, D-Las Vegas, who for home games travels to Oakland, California, said the proposed public subsidy was “a hard pill to swallow,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Atkinson said that while a stadium would provide jobs that are sorely needed, there needs to be more conversation before a special session can even be considered by lawmakers. And unless the issue of the use of the limited tourist tax revenue is worked out, that’s unlikely to happen according to Atkinson. He said if lawmakers anticipate a battle over the project they don’t want to ante up for a special session.
Like Atkinson, other elected officials doubted whether the proposal would make it to the Legislature before the November general election and while the general consensus was that a football stadium would benefit Southern Nevada as well as UNLV’s football program, there are issues that need to be resolved before public funds can be committed to the project. Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks questions why when a project is backed by billionaires are tax dollars needed. State Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas said if public funds are needed the proposal is a nonstarter. He said before a stadium can be considered, funding for the expansion of the convention center takes precedence as well as building schools and increasing teachers’ salaries. Segerblom said, “If a stadium is going to promote economic development, it should pay for itself,” and, “I personally like the Raiders. But I am vehemently opposed to it if public tax dollars are used.”
Adding to the dilemma is whether or not the NFL owners would even approve the move. The NFL has long been opposed to Las Vegas due to sports betting activities.