Vegas MLS plan shunts $25m to parks, asks “Now can we have our money?”

Las Vegas city officials have made their first attempt at “reducing or eliminating” public subsidies for a proposed MLS soccer stadium, as required by the city council, and it involves … spending more money, but on parks?

Las Vegas city officials are working on a plan to help deliver a new downtown soccer stadium by packaging the soccer venue with four possible park projects and a parking garage under a $45.7 million to $50.7 million bond proposal. … Parks were included in the new funding plan after many residents voiced concerns that hotel room tax revenues that were used to pay for city parks projects would be re-directed to help pay for the $200 million, 24,000-seat soccer stadium.

Okay, that can’t be it. What else did they say?

“They get to eat what they kill,” [city manager Betsy] Fretwell told council. “It becomes their risk, not ours.”

I’m sorry, what?

The city would still borrow $46 million to $50 million, by paying $3 million annually for 30 years, Council Member Bob Beers said.

“It’s a reduced public money approach, not an elimination of public money,” Beers said after the council meeting.

Translated into English, this appears to mean: The city would still borrow the same amount of money and spend $3 million a year to pay it off, but about half of that would now go to parks funding instead of stadium construction costs. Another $20 million from sales tax increment financing bonds would go to build a parking garage, which the soccer team could use, but which visitors to the Symphony Park cultural center could also use.

This is an improvement on the old plan, certainly, in that the total stadium subsidy is now  around $45 million, which is way better than the roughly $90 million that was originally floated. Whether it’s a good deal is another question — the councilmembers who were skeptical before still sound skeptical, so we’re likely to see lots more haggling before the final vote on December 17. Which is a good thing — haggling is exactly what city councilmembers are supposed to do when presented with a request like this. Keep on doing what you were elected to do, Vegas councilmembers! Show us that democracy isn’t irrevocably broken!

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