Billionaire casino baron Sheldon Adelson and not-quite-billionaire Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis may be successfully getting Las Vegas officials to ignore the fact that they’re demanding the largest NFL stadium subsidy in history and instead settle for haggling over the price, but even if they get the public cash — which is still to be determined — they have to find a place to build the thing. And somewhat surprisingly, given that Vegas is in the middle of a trackless desert, this is turning out to be a bit of a problem:
- The top site, on Tropicana Avenue near McCarran Airport, is now pretty much off the table thanks to the opposition of Southwest Airlines, which would have seen its flights scaled back thanks to the stadium interfering with available airspace.
- The former site of the Riviera Hotel and Casino could work, except that that’s also the proposed site of a convention center expansion. Though given that half the reason behind the stadium proposal is thought to be to block to convention center plan — Adelson runs a competing convention center, and is hoping to suck up hotel tax money so it can’t be used to expand his rivals — this probably won’t be a stumbling block for Adelson, it could be for elected officials.
- There’s the Rock in Rio grounds, but that’s privately owned and would cost a ton to purchase, and the Las Vegas 51’s Cashman Field, which is way the hell out in the middle of nowhere and nobody likes it as a site.
- The latest contender is a site adjacent to the Thomas & Mack Center on the UNLV campus, which was previously under consideration by Majestic Realty, yet another one of the partners on this latest stadium project, for an earlier planned UNLV stadium, before the university ditched it when other local casino operators griped. No recurrence of those gripes has re-emerged as of yet, but there’s still plenty of time left to go.
Undoubtedly, Adelson and friends will ultimately find a site — team owners always do — and the bigger issue will be the money. The two are tied together, though, not just because a purchase price for land may have to be folded into the stadium funding deal, but because there’s the question of that tax increment district that Adelson wants, which could kick back more or less tax revenue to the stadium’s private owners depending on where it ends up going, and how many people visit there on non-game days. This is normally the sort of thing you’d hope local elected officials would work out before considering whether to drop almost a billion dollars on a project, but the combination of the lure of an NFL team and the combined lobbying might of Adelson plus Majestic can sway a lot of politicians to overlook details like “where will it go” or “how will we pay for it,” apparently.