UNLV stadium board member: Big ol’ sales tax hike would foot stadium bill nicely

When the University of Nevada-Las Vegas proposed building a $900 million football stadium back in February, school president Don Snyder said he would “look creatively” for ways to fund it. “Creatively,” it now appears, means asking for county-wide sales and hotel tax hikes:

A UNLV stadium board member, Regent James Dean Leavitt, proposed Wednesday that the Clark County sales tax and the lodging room tax be increased slightly to help pay for an on-campus domed stadium of 50,000-55,000 seats.

Leavitt said University of Nevada, Las Vegas students should also pay a suggested $100 toward a “perpetual fund” for major university projects such as a stadium or medical school.

Raising the county sales tax by 0.25% would generate an estimated $79 million a year in new revenues, while a room tax surcharge of 1% would generate $44 million a year; since $900 million in bonds would cost something like $60 million a year to pay off, this would certainly cover the bill. As to why Clark County would want to do such a thing, presumably Leavitt believes that stadium consultant’s nonsense about $500 million a year in economic impact from a new stadium, even though the actual operating profit is estimated to be just $13.9 million a year — or way, way less than the stadium bonds would cost to pay off.

Anyway, plenty of other members of the stadium board are opposed to one or the other of the tax hikes, so this will probably now enter the haggling stage for the time being. But with the board set to make recommendations to the state legislature by the end of September, it’s fair to say that we can see what direction this thing is heading in.

10 comments on “UNLV stadium board member: Big ol’ sales tax hike would foot stadium bill nicely

  1. Well considering that this is Las Vegas, I would guess that jamming tourists with increased hotel and sales taxes would be easier to do than getting the citizens of Clarke county to foot the bill entirely.

  2. Have to agree with MCG’s comments. There’s a “goldmine” on the strip, use it.

  3. I actually will be in Vegas next week for a business convention. When I was making my lodging reservations I noticed that there is a resort fee (tax) that is charged for booking a room. This isn’t just a few cents being charged but is a pretty substantial amount. I only became aware of this when I completed my reservation. I would think that any increased taxes/fees used to fund any arenas would be hidden from tourists until they make all the necessary transactions for lodging.

  4. “Have to agree with MCG’s comments. There’s a “goldmine” on the strip, use it.”

    Well you say that, but everyone responds to incentives and you slap on enough 1% taxes and you will do two things:

    1) People will spend less money on their trip. Bob the machinist from Minnesota doesn’t suddenly have more money in his pocket when he gets to Vegas if his room is $10 more. He might not reduce his spending $10, but he will reduce it some amount. That hurts the businesses and your other tax revenues marginally.

    2) Long term cost structures can impact a places general desirability as a destination. People absolutely make vacation decisions based on “what is the absolutely cheapest possible” (just ask the airlines), and piling up the taxes and fees if overly abused could be pretty harmful in the long run.

    TLDR: Even money from tourists is not free money from nowhere that has no negative effects if you tax it.

  5. Seems easy enough, host the Super Bowl. A Las Vegas Super Bowl would be awesome. And you could pay for the stadium by rigging the game.

  6. Medical school vs. football stadium? Well of course society needs a football stadium more.

    I’m not a big college football fan, but isn’t UNLV a rather minor level college football team?

  7. Me being a Las Vegas native, you guys have no idea how clueless and corrupt the politicians are in this town. No one here wants to fund any stadium, especially when you have a casino privately funding one now as we speak. As a business owner, I fully understand the concept of using “other peoples’ money”. Yet, the one question I would asked these so-called economists, business consultants, and politicians is this: you honestly believe tourists will come to Vegas exclusively just to attend a sporting event? What I mean by that is if there was no gambling, nightlife, shopping, et al (essentially, the Las Vegas Strip simply vanished), would people come here for a sporting event? We all know the answer to this.

    Then again, this is the same town where people with gaming licenses are using their wives to obtain medical marijuana permits, even against the edict set down by the State Gaming Control Board, so there you have it.

  8. Las Vegas is already the kingdom of fees. I was disgusted the last time I went and actually had to spend money on a hotel room because my friend didn’t live there anymore. They want to actually raise sales and hotel taxes again? Let’s see how long they can keep doing that before the place turns into a ghost town, because it’s outrageous already. I can gamble anywhere.

    What really disgusted me recently was when I went to an FC Dallas game in Frisco and went to a nearby Pei Wei. For some reason, I was charged a “Non-Alcohol Tax” and a “Food Tax” for my meal and drink. The drink was just a Pepsi. What in the world was that about? I hope it wasn’t to pay the stadium or anything.

  9. “The vote to approve a half-cent sales tax dedication to the Frisco Community Development Corp. came in 1994. Since that time, tens of millions have gone to purchasing park land and developing recreational resources, including investments in the Dr Pepper Ballpark, Toyota Stadium, Frisco Athletic Center, the Sci-Tech Discovery Center and the move of the Museum of the American Railroad to Frisco and the Dallas Cowboys corporate headquarters. Planned expenditures by the Frisco CDC this fiscal year include construction at Grand Park, expansion of the Dog Park and Phase I of the Veterans Walk of Honor.”