Vegas needs the NFL or else tourists will go to Dallas, and other Raiders stadium arguments

The Nevada state legislature’s special session to discuss a $750-million-plus stadium subsidy to bring the Oakland Raiders to town kicks off today, which means it’s time for boosters of the plan to pull out all the stops in arguing that this not only is a reasonable amount of money to throw at two rich guys, but an absolute no-brainer. What do you got, stadium proponents?

Sisolak apparently said this back in early September (unless he said it again this weekend, which is possible), but the Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting it as new news. Which is fine enough, because the notion that Las Vegas needs to be put on the tourist map is hilarious enough that it’s worth repeating as often as possible.

  • Brookings Mountain West (a joint project of the Brookings Institution and UNLV, which would get to use the new stadium for football games) directors Robert Lang and William Brown: “More than 42 million annual visitors also will notice what action Nevada’s leadership takes. Our core economy and the region’s standing as a global tourist and convention destination are in play.”

This seems to be a twist on Sisolak’s remarks, only implying that if Nevada doesn’t spend $750 million on a football stadium, tourists will stop visiting Vegas because they’ll think the state has bad leadership. Still reasonably hilarious!

Okay, starting to sense an agreed-upon message here: Sure, people are flocking to Las Vegas now, but if we don’t have a football stadium, they’ll have no reason not to go to Dallas instead! Why this would suddenly start happening now after decades of Dallas having a football stadium and Vegas not is anyone’s guess, but as “cold Omaha” statements go, it’s a vivid enough image, I suppose.

This is another common on-message point — McMillan makes it as well — so long as you don’t actually do the math on whether increased visitor spending on those things would be worth more than $750 million. (Spoiler: It wouldn’t.)

Anybody else?

This would give the members of my union more jobs while construction was underway — it’s narrow self-interest, but at least it’s true! We have a winner!

Not that any of these arguments are really expected to win the day on the basis of pure logic, economic or otherwise — rather, they’re intended to provide political cover for the state legislators who are going to have to explain in a few days why they approved giving three-quarters of a billion dollars in tax money to a wealthy casino owner and a not-quite-as-wealthy NFL team owner so they could build a stadium for private use. In modern political discourse, you don’t need to actually prove that the emperor has new clothes — you just need to make the case that reasonable people can disagree over the definition of nakedness.


14 comments on “Vegas needs the NFL or else tourists will go to Dallas, and other Raiders stadium arguments

  1. Let’s face it – Las Vegas without a new Football Stadium is…just another Reno. Though much larger. And with a hockey team.

    • You obviously have never visited both cities. I live in Reno. I assure you that Las Vegas is not just like Reno if it doesn’t have a new football stadium.

  2. “…tourists will stop visiting Vegas because they’ll think the state has bad leadership.”

    This is entirely reasonable – and why I never go anywhere. Can’t find any states with good leadership.

  3. This is welfare for billionaires. Any person in the Nevada state legislature voting for this, is doing so to gain favor with the rich and powerful. What the “leaders” of Nevada should be doing is, taking that $750 million and earmarking it towards education. Tourists will NOT flock to Las Vegas to watch Raiders games. Hell, even Bay Area Raiders fans will pass on Vegas. We can already get tickets at a reasonable price. Tickets in that new Billionaire’s stadium will go up by a hefty multiplier, as they have in Santa Clara, Dallas, etc where new stadiums are in-place. In none of these cities, has the surrounding economy been lifted up in a dramatic way. It’s business as usual, for everybody but ownership. Those old, rich, white fellers keep getting richer, while the taxpayers foot the bill.

    You want a new stadium, Sheldon Adelson? You pay for it. You have the money. Stop taking money away from children, who deserve a good education.50th in the country is shameful, especially given all of the tax income the state already gets from Vegas. Dreadful.

    • Don’t forget the $400 million budget deficit the state currently faces. Sisolak and people of his ilk are talking about how the perception of the state will be hurt if this deal passes; well, the state is already a laughingstock for even considering such a deal. Let’s revisit the terms yet again:

      – GO Bonds instead of revenue bonds (completely fiscally irresponsible AND refutes any politicians’ assertion that the public would not be on the hook for any shortfalls in revenue)
      – 33-year term instead of the customary 20-year term (never done before on these types of bonds)
      – No share in the profits (essentially this is welfare)
      – No property taxes (common tactic)
      – Tax-increment financing (no share in that revenue)
      – Public financing contribution has gone down over the last 5+ years (not to mention, T-Mobile was privately-financed)
      – Public contribution not capped at 39% (instead of earning some goodwill and returning some of the subsidy back to the public if the project goes under budget, the private entities not only want the entire $750 million, but want the public to pay for cost overruns)
      – Largest public subsidy in history (almost double the previous amount)

      That $750 million will not include infrastructure improvements which the public will pay for (another $150 million). NDOT will try and roll that into the fuel-index measure and use that as a scare tactic.

      Like the previous poster stated so eloquently: Nevada is dead last or near the bottom of every educational metric in the country. Social services is in the crapper. Not only this, but since this stadium farce been discussed, the hands are out. Metro wants more money, despite wasting millions of dollars and only hiring half of the 1,200 officers they were suppose to hire. NDOT wants more money or threaten to freeze construction on existing infrastructure projects.

      I’ll say it again: if these sell-out politicians believe the people (notice I didn’t say the people the politicians represent when in fact the politicians only represent themselves) are for this deal, then why won’t it go to public vote?

      • Further more, Nevada’s governor is in massive trouble because he put everybody in the State Senate and Assembly in peril because they face reelection on November 8th and he doesn’t until 2018.

  4. I have only been the Las Vegas once. I have not been back because there was no big stadium to visit when my convention was over and I was finished with gambling. Had they had a big stadium there, I would have been back.

  5. “Visitors will spend on hotel rooms, food, transportation, drinks and retail shopping. That’s where our schools, roads, parks and all things supported by tax dollars would benefit. It’s the foundation of our economy.”

    That statement right there illustrates why Las Vegas will never be considered a big city. You can build a stadium for every major professional sport and it still won’t matter. When your economy is squarely based on an industry dependent on others outside of your city/county/state, you have serious problems. It’s like these idiots never learned from the Great Recession. Let’s not raise the educational standards of the populace; no, let’s give a decrepit multi-billionaire and his sycophants a blank check.

    • The state is, by and large, unappealing. Presenting something that wouldn’t be allowed anywhere else (gambling, prostitution, more big name DJs than anywhere outside Ibiza, etc) and drawing people who can’t find that back home to experience it is a core part of the economy here.

      Nevada itself isn’t going to be self sustainable. Nature hardly grows, the federal government owns half the land, sweetheart deals between industry titans and the government assets are common (many Vegas residents live on a huge continuous piece of land that Howard Hughes bought by giving the BLM a bunch of tiny little parcels). Even it’s original statehood was a bit of a government hoodwink to keep Lincoln elected. The role of government in development is not going to be the same as it is in most places.

  6. Excuse me while I laugh off my head.

    [Jessy S laughs for 40 straight minutes. He then passes out and needs to be revived by Emergency services. He then is taken to the Hospital where he is put on oxygen for a few days. When he gets out, he tells the hospital to bill the City of Las Vegas and notes what Neil was forced to report on what almost killed him.]

    In all seriousness, what Neil did post is the latest excuse for a sports team. The only difference is that we go to many different places in order to be entertained. On that note, Las Vegas really doesn’t have anything to worry about because people go to Dallas to see the spot that JFK was killed and to see the World’s tallest Cowboy. We go to Orlando in order to get our theme park fix, and we go to Las Vegas in order to gamble and see Wayne Newton.

    • The Powers That Be were terrified of AT&T Stadium when it first opened. The threat of us losing big name boxing matches and the NFR nearly going to Orlando has spooked the tourist industry dads for a while now.

      • But those same tourist industry dads are and shouldn’t be worried. The reason for that is because the Joneses want football games plus the once in a while special event to be played inside their stadium. Plus the NFR likely wanted bids for the rodeo and Orlando didn’t have a major shot at landing the event. The reason, there are more distractions in that area than are in Vegas. People seriously like the glitz and glamor that is your area and that will not change even if the NFL gets its way.