Las Vegas Sands Meets with Committee to Discuss Building NFL-Ready Football Stadium
At a meeting last Thursday with the South Nevada Tourist Infrastructure Committee, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation said it is serious about obtaining approval to build a $1.3 billion football stadium.
If built, the stadium would house UNLV football games. The long term plan would be to lure an NFL team to relocate in the Las Vegas area. The gaming company think it can overcome a longstanding reluctance by major American sports leagues to locate a team in Sin City, because of its connection to sports gambling.
$46 Million in Tax Revenues Each Year
Executives from the Las Vegas Sands Corp told the Infrastructure Committee’s officials that a world class stadium would generate $46 million a year in tax revenues. Those numbers did not include a provision for an NFL franchise, which would play 8 regular season games and 2 preseason games a year in the venue.
Company executives said they hoped that public financing would help pay for the stadium, though they declined to state how much the city would be required to pay. A preliminary report by the South Nevada Tourist Infrastructure Committee suggested the city would need to pay $780 million for the proposed stadium, leaving $520 million to be paid by private intersts like the Las Vegas Sands.
Competition for Hotel Tax
Opposition to the plan is likely to arise. There is likely to be opposition to the idea of the preferred means of raising such funds — a hotel tax — taking money away from the proposed Las Vegas Convention Center. If a stadium was approved, the two construction projects likely would compete for funds from the hotel tax.
A survey of local residents suggested people would like to see an NFL-ready stadium built, but they do not want to see it built using city funds. Two-thirds said they did not want to see public funds go into the construction of a football stadium.
Oakland Raiders Exploring Options
Oakland Raiders owner, Mark Davis, has met with Sheldon Adelson about the prospect of relocating his NFL franchise to Las Vegas. Mark Davis, the son of the late Raiders owner, Al Davis, was left out of a relocation plan to Los Angeles a few months ago. Ultimately, the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers were given approval to move into a joint stadium.
That leaves the Oakland owner without a modern stadium. The City of Oakland appears unwilling to fund a stadium, which leaves the door open for the Raiders organization to move for the third time in their history.
Previous Raiders Relocations
The first time was a 1983 move from Oakland to Los Angeles, which was opposed by then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. Al Davis won a lawsuit, which allowed the move to take place. The next time was a move back to Oakland in 1995, when Al Davis could not get the City of Los Angeles to approve a new stadium.
If Mark Davis was to move the Raiders to Las Vegas, he likely would face stiff opposition from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The NFL is a staunch opponent of close connections to sports betting, so a stadium within driving distance of dozens of world class sportsbooks like would be opposed.
NFL Fears Sports Betting Ties
Roger Goodell was asked about such a move recently, and gave this answer: “Those are ultimately decisions about where they go and the impact that the potential gambling that we’d have to deal with. We’d have to understand it, we’d have to understand what the impact is on us and ultimately each owner would have a vote on that.”
To gain approval for a move, Mark Davis would need three-fourths of the NFL’s owners to vote for the move. Getting 75% of the NFL owners to agree to approve a move to Las Vegas might be difficult. If that did not happen, Mark Davis would have to go the route of a lawsuit, which would be a long and grueling process — with no assurance of victory.
Being Played for Leverage?
Of course, Mark Davis’s flirtation with Sheldon Adelson and the City of Las Vegas might be a leverage move, anyway. Many other sports owners have been accused of playing up a possible relocation of their franchise to gain concessions from their home city’s leaders.
Such a move sometimes backfires; people still claim Art Modell’s infamous move of the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore (to become the Baltimore Ravens) was just such a move, and Modell only moved the team when his bluff was called and his plan backfired.
For that reason, building a world class football stadium would be a risk, but one with the outside chance of yielding its desired results. Las Vegas business leaders, Sheldon Adelson included, have long wanted a stadium capable of hosting world class sporting events, concerts, and shows, even if the NFL franchise never relocates.