Thursday, September 18, 2014

Visions of Stadium Splendor

Uh oh. Maybe no goal?

In recent weeks, Las Vegas City Hall has been heating up as speculation has been ramping up over a proposed soccer stadium Downtown. Findlay Sports & Entertainment and The Cordish Companies have been hyping the cache of a prestigious sports stadium in the heart of "The Entertainment Capital of the World". Yet while they and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman (I) have been hyping the razzle-dazzle of this stadium, others have been asking the tough questions. How many will actually attend games here? What are the real revenue projections? And how much will Las Vegas taxpayers have to pay for this?

Now, we know Cordish wants $3 million per year from the City of Las Vegas in addition to all the other subsidies Cordish & Findlay are demanding from city government (such as the ~$130 million they want the city to chip into stadium construction). That money would come from hotel tax revenues. Mayor Carolyn Goodman actually admitted it earlier this month on his show, even as she was claiming room tax revenue "isn't tax dollars, it's tourist dollars".

Last night, Las Vegas Council Member Lois Tarkanian (D) told Jon Ralston she would not vote for the Cordish-Findlay Stadium if the vote was today. She mentioned the issue of those hotel room tax revenues, and in particular how those room tax funds are used to maintain Las Vegas city parks. Council Members Bob Beers (R) and Bob Coffin (D) have already been sounding the alarms on this, and Tarkanian added that the city is just about to finish repaying bonds for parks in Northwest Las Vegas.

And the City of Las Vegas just recently raised user fees for youth sports leagues to use city parks. So how much will Las Vegas residents actually have to pay for this stadium?

Las Vegas isn't the only municipal company chasing after a MLS team. And when we look at the history other sports stadium subsidy deals, the outlook turns from merely very concerning to downright frightening.

Look, we're not against soccer. Far from it. And no, Mayor Goodman, we're not all just "naysayers". We're realists. And all we're asking for are the real numbers behind this stadium proposal.

We can see why Cordish won't talk to anyone and Findlay only agrees to "happy talk". However, Las Vegas city officials don't answer to Cordish and Findlay. They answer to Las Vegas residents. So they should not be afraid to drop the spin and start talking about the reality behind these visions of stadium splendor.

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