FOOTBALL IN VEGAS
By Jeff Alexander
For most of us, a phone call from a multi-billionaire to attend a meeting would cause us to drop everything and hustle our butts to that meeting. It seems that’s true for Mark Davis, who was summoned by Sheldon Adelson to tour the Las Vegas site that is the proposed home of a one-billion-plus stadium being pushed by Adelson and other scions of the Vegas community. Davis owns the Oakland Raiders and he is seeking a new home for his team, and while he was here he also met with Steve Wynn and the Fertittas. His visit to Vegas could have been a calculated move to pressure the NFL, Oakland and Los Angeles to give his team a permanent home in California. That’s really where he wants his team to be; where they can draw from a population of many millions and thereby thrive. Las Vegas, in terms of population, is smalltime and probably unsuitable for many reasons to be an NFL city.
The stadium itself is a good idea. Andy Abboud, Las Vegas Sands’ senior vice president recently said: “We see a lot more opportunities—conference championships, bowl games, NFL exhibition football, boxing, soccer, neutral game sites, and music festivals.” The new stadium would be an awesome home for the UNLV football program also. So there are a lot of plusses to the idea. But with all the positives, there are some glaring negatives that should be considered. Can a city of just over a million people really support an NFL team or any other major league team, when many teams are struggling in cities whose populations are much higher than ours in Las Vegas? Another important negative is the way the investors propose to fund the stadium cost. They seek $780 million in public financing with private investors ponying up $420 million.
That’s certainly a good deal for the investors, but where do they expect the $780 million to come from? Taxes! They propose diverting hotel room taxes, rental car and taxicab revenues, current room taxes, and a potential room tax increase. Not good! The accountant-run casino corporations are more and more treating our visitors as suckers, rather than valued clients. Careful, or the “Chickens may come home to roost.”
How many visitors and even locals have you talked to in the past few years who have told you that the cost of Vegas trips have ballooned so much that they feel they’re getting raped? Our visitors and the money they spend on amenities and gambling are the life-blood of our city. What will be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back? We should be making it easier and more attractive to visit Las Vegas, not continue to heap taxes and resort fees ad infinitum on their backs. Why should it be our valued clients, (our visitors) to foot the bill for our stadium?
It is estimated that a new domed stadium will provide $600 to $800 million annually for Las Vegas’ resort and retail businesses. So economically, it could be a boon to our city. That’s good. Do the stadium—but the private sector should foot the bill, not our visitors and locals. Not to worry, the private sector will profit mightily, even if they pay for the whole package. Keep the enticement for our visitors reasonable. They will continue to come to Vegas in great numbers, enriching our casinos and businesses and the stadium becomes a win-win for the private sector investors, our community, and our valued clients. Chase the dream of an NFL team, but be careful—we may be better off if we don’t catch that dream. If one of Vegas’ visionaries, like Adelson, Wynn or the Fertittas, land that dream in the sweet spot of Vegas’ arms—we’ll help support it.
PHOTO - Raiders vs. Dolphis - June Rivera - Flicker.com/photos/itsjune