I’ve been sadly neglecting Chris Milam’s insane scheme to build $2 billion worth of stadiums and arenas near Las Vegas — and in case you think that’s not enough to warrant the moniker “insane,” recall that he planned to fund this by borrowing $650 million at 20% interest from “a Chinese company that makes surveillance equipment” — especially after he declared that building that many stadiums wasn’t actually viable, but he’d be happy to use the land he was given for commercial and residential development. But the latest developments just cry out for attention:
- The U.S. Bureau of Land Management chief who approved the sale of 480 acres of federal land to Milam for his project is business partners with a Milam consultant who “stands to make more than $1 million in a success fee if the BLM transfers the land to Milam on Wednesday,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. And just in case that wasn’t enough conflict of interest for you, the consultant in question, Michael Ford, also helped the city of Henderson, where the Milam megalopolis would be built, to prepare its public notice for the deal.
- Milam, meanwhile, is currently in court defending himself against city charges that he only proposed the ridiculous sports plan as a bait and switch so he could get hold of the federal land. Nothing could be further from the truth, Milam insisted in court papers yesterday: Rather, the problem was that the Chinese spy company wouldn’t lend him his money unless he had a pro sports team, so it was the Sacramento Kings’ fault for refusing to promise to move there. (A Henderson city spokesperson replied to the Review-Journal via email that “at no time did they inform the City that financing fell through because of their failure to lure the Kings” and “Milam never informed the City that the Chinese financing had fallen through.”)
So, lotsa crazy, but no actual stadiums, not anymore. But at least Las Vegas can still look forward to its $800 million UNLV football stadium to be funded by a new sales tax district.