Rendering of the proposed Las Vegas Raiders Stadium.
It looks like a good bet that Las Vegas will get a new $1.9-billion football stadium. On Tuesday, Nov. 15, Clark County commissioners voted 6-1 to increase hotel room taxes to fund the project. This comes on the heels of approval for the stadium earlier this month from the Nevada governor and legislature. The 65,000-seat stadium is being eyed as the future home of the Oakland Raiders.
“We’ll be issuing the bonds to use the room tax revenues to fund the public portion of the project in a matter of days,” said Erik Poppa, public communications director, Clark County. “The commission approved a tax increase that will finance $750 million in bonds for a $1.9-billion domed stadium project, which could become home to the National Football League’s (NFL) Oakland Raiders and UNLV (University of Las Vegas) football team.”
“The rest of the funds will come from Sheldon Adelson (Las Vegas Sands Corp. chairman and CEO) who will put up $650 million,” said Poppa. “The stadium’s financing plan also calls for $500 million from the Raiders and the NFL.”
One large hurdle still exists. “The NFL has to sign off on the Raiders moving to Las Vegas,” said Poppa. “This is by no means a done deal yet.”
Poppa said that the commission agreed to a 0.88 percentage-point room tax increase to fund the stadium; the new hotel room taxes go into effect Jan. 1.
“The governor was very smart about this,” said Pat Christenson, president, Las Vegas Events. “Typically, this is done in a vacuum, in a back room, and the public is left out of the process. The governor didn’t go that route; instead he made it a very public issue and he got all the top CEOs of the hotels, the Las Vegas mayor, the county commission, the chamber and local businesses involved.”
“This group met for close to a year,” said Christenson. “In the end, the stadium was pushed forward when the Raiders became a big part of this. The second piece that fell in place was when that group agreed it was worth $750 million of public money to get it moving.”
“Now it’s just a matter of whether the NFL will accept the offer.”
Christenson said that many of the outsiders who are looking at this deal don’t understand ‘Veganomics.'
“It’s totally unfair to look at this like you would any other city,” he explained. “Vegas is completely different than any other city in the U.S.”
“We are in a position to capture more export revenue than any other city,” said Christenson. “In a typical city, 60 to 70 percent of the patrons would come from out of that city. In our market we’re looking at 80 percent out of market. Las Vegas is a destination city. We have hotels, shopping, dining and shows. We have a unique ability to capture revenue from the fans. The investment of $750 million to our economy is different than in any other city.”
Christenson believes the potential economic impact of bringing the stadium to Vegas will approach $800 million to $1 billion a year. “If it is the Raiders and we’re successful in our marketing and making it more of a regional team than a city team; that’s going to have a huge impact.”
“We’re investing $750 million into a $1.9-billion stadium,” he said. “The NFL is coming up with $500 million, Adelson is coming up with $650 million, but Las Vegas gets all the revenue from all the ancillary spending. This is all export business. It’s a great use of public money.”
“It’s not fair to put us in the box with the other cities and we have to thank Adelson for allowing that to happen,” he explained. “Without that piece this could not happen. I’m hoping we are so successful we sell out that stadium with just Raiders fans. But those fans – half of them – might come from all over the country.”
Christenson said that the stadium will also allow Las Vegas to compete for all kinds of events like the Final Four, rugby, soccer, touring concerts and the Super Bowl. “We’ve never had the type of venue we could use to compete; we will now,” he said.
Stadium Authority Board
Previously, it was decided that a nine-member Stadium Authority Board would be commissioned to oversee all facets of the stadium. Three members are to come from the county; three members will come from the governor’s office; one member will be picked from a list of nominees provided by Caesar’s Entertainment and MGM Resorts, the two biggest hotel room providers in Las Vegas; one member will be picked by UNLV and two members will be picked by the other seven.
Appointed to the Stadium Authority Board on Nov. 15 by Clark County Commissioners are Tommy White, the head of Laborers Union Local 872; Ken Evans, president of the Urban Chamber of Commerce and Jan Jones Blackhurst, former mayor of Las Vegas and an executive with Caesar's Entertainment.
“White and Evans were selected from a group of over 100 people who petitioned the commissioners to join the board,” said Poppa. “Jones was picked from a list of six nominees submitted by Caesar's Entertainment and MGM Resorts International, the two companies with the most hotel rooms.”
Three members have been appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval: Steve Hill, chief executive officer of Nevada State Bank, and Bill Hornbuckle, president of MGM Resorts International.
Hill, who chaired the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, will head the stadium authority board.
UNLV President Len Jessup chose Mike Newcomb, the executive director of Thomas & Mack Center, Sam Boyd Stadium and the Cox Pavilion as the representative from UNLV.
“According to state law the board must have its first meeting by Dec. 31. Board members do not receive any compensation,” said Poppa. “The Clark County treasurer also will serve as a non-voting member.”
“The first thing the board will have to determine is a location for the stadium,” said Poppa. “It will not be in the city of Las Vegas; it will be in Clark County, which means somewhere south of the Las Vegas strip.”
Poppa said that there is currently no timetable for getting NFL approval.
Interviewed for this story: Erik Poppa, (702) 455-3548; Pat Christenson, (702) 260-9032