Las Vegas MLS stadium would cost public 41% of price, or 75%, or 45%, or who knows, really?

The city of Las Vegas has finally released some details on how to fund that MLS stadium for a nonexistent MLS team that Cordish Cos. wants to build because it has an option on some land and doesn’t know what else to do with it. According to that newspaper that just laid off half the sportswriters I know and let them learn about it on Twitter, here’s the scoop:

The stadium would be located in the city of Las Vegas’s downtown Symphony Park area and the total project cost, including interest on bonds, would be $410 million. Sixty-nine percent of that would be privately funded and 31 percent would come from public sources. The statement says that the public funding would mostly come from taxes collected on tourists and from public infrastructure funds.

Okay, that’s a little vague, but at least it spells out the split: 69% private, 31% public, which — wait, what’s that, Las Vegas Review-Journal?

The city of Las Vegas would be responsible for more than $150 million — or more than 75 percent — toward the cost of a $200 million, 24,000-seat soccer stadium in Symphony Park that would be built for a possible Major League Soccer team, according to a term sheet obtained Tuesday by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The term sheet contradicts a press release distributed Tuesday by the city and its two private soccer stadium partners, which stated, “59 percent of these (stadium) costs would be privately financed.”

The Review-Journal later goes into more detail, which explains that the $150 million public subsidy isn’t quite that bad: The team would pay about $4 million a year in rent and shares of non-soccer revenue, which would cut the public’s total cost to, let’s call it maybe $90 million. (That “total project cost” of $410 million was apparently bulked up with future interest payments and the cost of acquiring an expansion team in the first place, which is major-league-level chutzpah, at least.) Though there’s also no detail on who would pay operating costs for the stadium, so that $90 million could easily go back up again.

This whole mess will be presented to the city council next week, at which point it will likely proceed to three months of public hearings, with an actual vote slated for around December. In the meantime, we can look at the pretty pictures, which apparently involve a translucent roof and spotlights and all kinds of other stuff that seems unlikely to look that glitzy considering what $200 million typically buys you in a soccer stadium, but let’s ooh and aah anyway:

Oh, and all this is, of course, contingent on Vegas actually getting an MLS team, which is no sure thing given that there’s only one expansion slot left and tons of cities angling to fill it. But I guess if Minnesota is announcing it’s figured out how to divide up the rent from any future MLS team, Las Vegas has to do something to show that it’s ready, too, if only to stay even in the battle of press releases.

[UPDATE: Vegas councilmember Bob Beers writes to point me to his blog, which has a more detailed explanation of the stadium funding plan. In short: The city would put up $41 million in cash (some of it provided from sales taxes redirected, as discussed back in June, from a “Sales Tax Additional Revenue” district, i.e., a STIF), plus $115 million worth of bonds. Those bonds would be repaid via $3 million a year in park maintenance funds, plus $4-5 million a year in payments from the team — which would come out of soccer team profits (if there are any), and would otherwise presumably have to be covered by the city. In other words, we yet again have a scenario where an MLS team could be guaranteed to cover any losses before it would have to start paying for its stadium debt. It’s almost like these guys compare notes, you know?]


3 comments on “Las Vegas MLS stadium would cost public 41% of price, or 75%, or 45%, or who knows, really?

  1. Ah, the Cordish Company. They aren’t mentioned here, but they are sleazy fuckers. These bastards managed to get a city I used to live in (Louisville) to gift them a massive property then known as the Galleria in the center of downtown, have the city pay millions for remodeling, provide tax-free operation for YEARS, and give Cordish the ability to shut down a stretch of public street whenever they wanted to–and not just for automobile and bicycle traffic, but pedestrians as well. It’s called 4th Street Live (they’ve done the same “Live” thing in many cities). What a swindle, and the politicians are totally in cahoots. I hope Las Vegans fight this, because they are definitely going to lose otherwise.

  2. I live in Las Vegas and let me tell you: I have yet to find a single person outside of those individuals with a vested interest in support of this cluster%&^. Everyone has a stadium plan, yet only one has a plan for funding it and recently broke ground (amazingly, that one is using private funds – what a novel concept). It’s mind-boggling as a business owner how stupid these politicians here are. Any venture I enter into I make sure I check the profitability of it. If it don’t make dollars it don’t make sense. Yet, the dimwitted straw person of a Mayor (her husband truly runs things) and her dumb-founded City Council can’t apply the same logic. The economy here is in the crapper, wages are depressed, buildings are empty, parks are few, and crime is increasing at an alarming rate. Heck, the city is still paying on bonds for a City Hall no one wanted, a high-end theater house catering to the well-off who doesn’t dine and stay downtown, and a Mob Museum no one attends. The city just doesn’t have enough money Oh, don’t forget UNLV and the ownership group of the 51s have their hands out too, despite the fact attendance levels are beyond pathetic.

    I know it appears that I’m slamming my hometown. I’m not, I just dislike stupidity and cronyism. There is no way in hell Vegas can support a professional team. It’s just not possible. There are no high-level corporations outside the gaming industry to provide dollars necessary to help subsidize the arena’s operating expenses (and you know they won’t help their competition). What a joke!

  3. It actually doesn’t look like it’s too bad of a deal. Las Vegas in MLS wouldn’t be bad at all.

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