Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee Approves $750 Million Plan for NFL Stadium
The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee approved a $750 million public funding plan put forward by the Oakland Raiders and its financial backers on Thursday. The proposal calls for a $1.9 billion NFL-ready stadium in an undetermined location in the Las Vegas area.
The Tourism Infrastructure Committee’s proposal is the first step in a plan to build a 65,000-seat domed stadium. The Oakland Raiders’ contract with the O.com Stadium in Oakland is completed at the end of the 2016-17 NFL season, though it has the option to re-up on a per-year basis in 2017 and 2018.
Introducing the Las Vegas Raiders
If given approval in a vote in a league-wide voter of the NFL ownership, the Raiders plan to move to Las Vegas. UNLV’s football squad would share the stadium, which likely would house Friday night football games for local high schools, too.
It is unknown when the Las Vegas stadium would be completed, so the Raiders might have to wait for a year to relocated.
Another alternative would be to play for a year in UNLV’s current stadium, but that likely would be unappealing, given the lack of facilities compared to NFL stadiums.
In approving the proposal, the Nevada oversight committee called for increasing the hotel tax in Las Vegas. That would put most of the tax burden on the 40,000,000+ tourists who visit Las Vegas each year. That tax presumably would be exacted over a several year period. If one assumed a 3-year window, then each tourist visiting Las Vegas over the next three years would spend an additional $7.50 per person during their stay in Las Vegas.
The Adelson Group
Sheldon Adelson has supported the $750 million plan with his own contribution. Adelson would be a key part of an investment group which would invest $650 million in the project. Owner Mark Davis of the Oakland Raiders has pledged $500 million of the Raiders’ money to the project.
The Adelson group offered to pay for any overruns on the construction costs, as well as any infrastructure costs needed to support the construction project. In return, Sheldon Adelson has called for the public not to be paid any of the profits from the stadium. To justify that request, the Adelson Group said the private investors already would have trouble making a profit on the enterprise.
Their stated reason for investing in the project is to bring a National Football League franchise to Las Vegas. Such a turn of events likely would bring more pro franchises to the area, perhaps from Major League Baseball or the National Basketball Association. The NHL announced a plan to expand, placing its 31st franchise in Las Vegas. Bill Foley is the new NHL owner.
Steve Hill Discusses the Advantages
Tourism Infrastructure Committee Chairman Steve Hill said an NFL franchise would unite the Las Vegas community. Hill said, “We get an NFL team, and that is a significant step forward for Las Vegas and the community. Those teams bring the community together. We’re going to have people wearing Raiders jerseys and high-fiving each other….That’s not something you can put a number on.”
People might think of Las Vegas like another Los Angeles, where the glitz and glamour and variety of other entertainments precludes rabid sports fandom. That is belied by Las Vegas’s reception of the Jerry Tarkanian era UNLV Running Rebels, who had a rabid following from Las Vegas locals.
In HBO Sports’s excellent documentary on the subject, Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV, Tarkanian said of his era of basketball in Sin City, “It was more difficult to get a ticket to a UNLV basketball game then it was for the Frank Sinatra show.”
Brian Sandoval’s Support Needed
The next step is for the proposal to go to the desk of Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. If Gov. Sandoval agreed, he could open a special legislative session to have the Nevada State Legislature approve the measure. Gov. Sandoval had a rival plan on the table which saw the city of Las Vegas contribute $500 million, so it is undetermined yet if the governor would support a plan calling for a greater contribution.
If Sandoval supported the proposal and the legislature approved it, then the final stumbling block for the Oakland Raiders would be approval from the NFL ownership. For the Raiders to move (without winning a lawsuit), three-fourths of the NFL owners (24 out of 32) would have to vote “Yes” to the proposal.
Leading owners like Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, and Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, have voiced their support of Mark Davis, who is the son of the late Raiders owner, Al Davis. Jerry Jones said of the plan to move, “I think Las Vegas is one of the real crown jewels of communities in the United States. For me, I think that certainly the fact that Las Vegas has a gambling aspect to it is far overshadowed by the entertainment value, if you will, the family appeal that you have, the convention appeal.”
Roger Goodell on Las Vegas Sportsbooks
Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL, would have no vote in the decision, but Goodell likely could influence events. His main concern is assuring the proximity to globally famous sportsbook would not harm public perception of NFL games’ integrity.
Roger Goodell said of Las Vegas football, “Tom me, where I cross the line is anything that can impact the integrity of the game. If people feel like it’s going to have an influence on the outcome of the game, we are absolutely opposed to that.“
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