Las Vegas council votes to create TIF district for soccer stadium, has no clue what it would cost

TIFs! The Cordish Companies’ Las Vegas soccer stadium plan has got TIFs!

The first baby step of creating a tourism improvement district on the 59 acres downtown at Symphony Park was approved with scant discussion by the Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday.

If a proposed soccer arena goes nowhere, so does the district.

If the arena goes forward, then the district would shift existing sales and use taxes which go to the state and retain them in the local improvement district, explained Bill Arent, director of the Economic and Urban Development Department.

How much the district would collect in sales and use taxes, nobody’s saying, nor what it would do with the money. The Las Vegas Review-Journal notes, “Without specifics, there was little discussion by council members about the tourism district creation.” But they still voted for it, because there’s always time to ask questions later, right?

6 comments on “Las Vegas council votes to create TIF district for soccer stadium, has no clue what it would cost

  1. So Las Vegas has great gambling, top notch entertainment, ultra liberal alcohol laws, topless shows, a generally festive atmosphere, and they think they can lure me (an incremental tourist) there with the boring European sport of soccer?

  2. @Tim C
    Without taking into account the pros and cons of this specific venture, soccer is the best sport to lure in new visitors for a city like Las Vegas. It’s the second favorite sport for those under 30 (after football), and by far the favorite sport of internationals. Not to mention the fact that soccer has a large and accepted culture of betting (some foreign teams are even sponsored by gambling firms).

    If you don’t fall under these demographics, well, you’re not who they’re aiming for.

  3. Nobody in that demographic is going to travel to Vegas to see an MLS team, though. Which leaves … international friendlies? I’m not seeing it.

  4. City Council didn’t agree to create the TIF. They approve a review of it! So they ARE ASKING QUESTIONS FIRST.

    “Wednesday’s vote authorized hiring a consultant to write a report on the fiscal effect of the district, bond repayment and whether it would fit the standards of a tourism improvement district.”

  5. Pete: Fair enough. It still seems like they could be doing more due diligence before bringing in a consultant, but if they have that discussion once his report is complete, all will be forgiven.

  6. First of all, this isn’t about soccer, its about an opportunistic play for some very valuable real estate.

    MLS doesn’t draw noticeably out of its local market. In general, MLS teams make about 500 tickets available for the visiting team. AT 24,000 seats, the stadium is just too small to attract the major international powerhouse teams. In order to get a Man U, Barcelona etc to that size stadium, tickets would end up more expensive than ringside at a Mayweather fight. A better example would be the Stub Hub Center in LA. They host 2 MLS teams’ home games (Galaxy, Chivas), MMA, Boxing and a few extreme sports events. Not only would the Symphony Park stadium struggle to fill event dates but the idea that 75% of the visitors would be non-local is just ridiculous.

    The bigger issue though is the absolute nonsense that Lav Vegas will somehow get the 24th expansion franchise. Minneapolis is the clear front runner. With an ownership group consisting of 2 NFL owners, a company with loads of experience in soccer (Relevant Sports) and a nearly $1B stadium already underway in the nations 15th largest media market Minneapolis is a shoe in for the next franchise. MLS criteria is as follows (from Miami Herald)

    “Criteria for MLS expansion include a committed local viable ownership group with a comprehensive stadium plan it controls, in an appropriate market attractive to sponsors and television networks with a history of strong fan support.
    Read more here:”

    Cordish and Findlay have no experience in soccer (in fact, Findlay has no experience in sports at all despite the name of his new company)., Las Vegas in the 42nd DMA in terms of Nielson households, which would make it the smallest market DMA in MLS and hasn’t had a top level major sports team since 1977 when the Las Vegas Quicksilver lasted only 1 season.

    Most markets similar to Vegas would start with a NASL or USL Pro team, build the supporters/Fan base and THEN look to move up to MLS. This is the situation in Orlando, Seattle, Portland, Toronto and Montreal. The ownership of the new Atlanta MLS team are the owners of the NFL Falcons so there’s loads of money and experience in sports there.

    Las Vegas should hope to get an MLS franchise but not in this round of expansion. The only reason this is being tabled is because without it, Cordish will lose the option on Symphony Park. The Mayor is blinded by the prospect of an MLS team. Instead of consultants to advise them of the TIF possibility the City should hire a consultant that can advise them of the soccer side of this equation. If they did, they would see that it just doesn’t add up.

    Put this land back on the market and get out of these large interest payments. The chances of Las Vegas getting expansion team #24 and slim and none.

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