KTNV in Las Vegas polled Clark County voters last weekend on whether they’d approve using public tax money on a new NFL stadium to bring the Oakland Raiders to town, and the results were an overwhelming nuh-uh:
Fifty-five percent of voters polled in Nevada’s largest county said they’d oppose pledging up to $500 million in public funds to help finance a stadium that could potentially bring an NFL team to Las Vegas, with 35 percent in favor and 10 percent undecided.
This is in no way surprising, since public opinion usually is against using tax money for sports venues, at least before any major public ad campaigns have been run, though that 20% margin is pretty large. Also not surprising: One of the execs at the company that would get the public boodle says it’s all a problem of how the question was phrased.
Las Vegas Sands executive Andy Abboud responded to the survey results, saying that voters respond more favorably to the proposed stadium when they learn more about how the tax would be structured.
“The survey question leaves out critical information,” he said in an emailed statement. “Specifically, the public funding would come from an increase in the hotel tax, which is predominantly paid by those visiting Clark County, not its residents.”
First of all, no, hotel taxes belong to Clark County residents, just like any other kind of taxes — once they’re paid to the county treasury, you can use them for anything you want. (And it’s not like even taxes on out-of-towners are free money: If you raise them too high, visitors start staying away from town.) Second of all, no, that’s not where all the public funding would come from, since the deal also includes about $250 million in tax increment kickbacks of sales and business taxes paid in and around the stadium.
Would a more precisely worded poll be better? Yes! Would the results be any different? Probably not! Is any of this going to matter to the elected officials who are going to decide this without a public vote? Who knows, though Deadspin does hope that the specter of Tim Lee’s dead political career will haunt them, or at least give them pause before they approve an outlay of $950 million that their constituents aren’t in favor of.