Last night, the City of Las Vegas held its first of a series of six community town hall meetings at Centennial Hills Community Center. Why? Well... Goal!
Or at least, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman (I) and some City Council Members are hoping they're about to hit a big goal with a proposed Downtown soccer stadium. However, not everyone seems to be sold on this. Las Vegas city officials looked ready to give a "pep talk", but a number of residents were ready to grill officials over the numbers behind this grandiose proposal.
Las Vegas city taxpayers are being asked to chip in nearly $130 million towards the estimated $410 million price tag for the new stadium. A number of financial experts are now stepping forward to explain the many risks the city will take if it decides to partially subsidize The Cordish Companies' and Findlay Sports & Entertainment's desired Downtown stadium. After all, the city will ultimately be on the hook for at least $82 million even if the stadium succeeds in attracting a well performing Major League Soccer (MLS) team and selling out plenty of games... And that's still a major if.
Over the years, Dr. Judith Grant Long has been crunching the numbers on the public costs of "public-private partnership" sports stadiums. She's revealed the hidden costs of these stadium deals, such as "free land", lease discounts, and tax exemptions. Yet so far, the City of Las Vegas isn't noting any of these costs in its "financial analysis" of the stadium plan.
In 2012, Bloomberg News revealed that Americans had spent $4 billion subsidizing sports stadiums since 1986. And what have we received in turn? Oh, about $10 billion in additional costs while sports team owners laugh all the way to the bank.
There are plenty of good reasons for Las Vegas city residents to be skeptical about this latest stadium proposal. Remember when the City of Henderson ran into trouble over a stadium plan that Chris Milam was never going to get off the ground? While the Cordish-Findlay Las Vegas soccer stadium plan doesn't approach that level of fraud (or at least, not yet), there are already a number of warning signs on the high costs the City of Las Vegas will have to incur for it. And so far, there's little evidence suggesting this stadium will actually "pay for itself". After all, no publically subsidized stadium ever truly has.
Perhaps now that Tesla scored the sweetheart deal of a lifetime from the State of Nevada, Cordish & Findlay now want in on the corporate welfare gravy train. What exactly is the goal of Mayor Goodman and the stadium cheerleaders? That's the key question that City Council Members and Las Vegas city residents must ask at the upcoming town halls.