Vegas stadium could cost public $1.65B with highway upgrades, assembly postpones vote

The Nevada state assembly met yesterday as planned to discuss a $750 million stadium subsidy to bring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas — but, not as planned, adjourned for the night after 1 am, following a 17-hour marathon session that didn’t result in the required two-thirds majority for the measure. The unexpected holdup: the emergence of a report by the state transportation department that it would need at least $899 million in highway upgrades to accommodate a new NFL stadium.

After the hearing ended just after 1 a.m., Assembly Majority Leader Paul Anderson, R-Las Vegas, said late news of the report made passage of the stadium proposal more difficult….

Assistant Majority Floor Leader Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, said after 9 p.m. that the bill was just short of the support needed for passage. There were 17 solid yes votes for the plan in the 25-member Republican Assembly caucus, and an estimated 10 votes in the 17-member Democratic caucus, Hansen said. The bill needs 28 votes, a two-thirds supermajority, to pass and advance to Gov. Brian Sandoval’s desk.

Whether the additional $899 million — which would go for adding lanes to I-15 and building new carpool ramps — should be counted as a cost of the stadium project is an issue that the Nevada DOT report attempted to finesse, writing that “since the development of the transportation projects in this area of Las Vegas was already planned, there is no fiscal impact above and beyond what NDOT assumed it would deliver in southern Nevada.” However, the report also noted that the improvements weren’t otherwise scheduled to be completed until between 2020 and 2035, and haven’t yet been funded — and moving them up would require delaying other highway projects.

The assembly is set to meet again this morning, and Anderson, at least, said he was confident he could cobble together enough votes to pass the stadium bill. (If he can’t, the legislature would likely kick the proposal to the Clark County Commission to see if they could approve it instead.) The highway cost revelations seem to have thrown at least a small wrench in the works, though, as they should given the mammoth scale of the costs — another reminder that it’s really important to have a transportation plan in place before you start voting on a stadium deal, okay, people?

25 comments on “Vegas stadium could cost public $1.65B with highway upgrades, assembly postpones vote

  1. As expected, costs are already out of control and the solution is to put them in other buckets. All this for a team that will likely not be approved to move? It’s a gambling state all right!

  2. Bingo! I’ve said this was going to happen from the very beginning. Neil it’s a lot worse than you think. Cops already using stadium to get an increase in sales taxes, despite the fact having at least $100 million in reserves AND didn’t hire the 1,200 police officers earmarked the last time there was a tax hike (only hired 600). Now they’re getting an additional $39 million/year to “hire” about 400 cops. Money says they hire 100. The firefighters have their hands out, despite doing hardly anything outside of medic calls. My cousin was a firefighter for over 20 years. He was making mid-6 figures when he had to retire due to declining health. He is fully vested and gets paid 100% of his salary. The man is only 47.

    You want more? Of course you do. This so-called NDOT report was planned from the very beginning. They issued a contract to CH2M Hill (who by the way do outstanding work) for $150,000 to do a transportation study that was finished weeks ago. Now by dropping this, NDOT has pushed their agenda to the forefront, which was not the stadium infrastructure improvements but this: a 10-year extension to the fuel-indexing tax. Billions of dollars are at stake for that to pass. NDOT, Las Vegas Paving, and others already threatened residents if it isn’t passed, work stops. Politicians claim the bonds would be indexed for inflation but it’s actually doubled that.

    No one knows how anyone is going to be pay for this. Again, I do not blame any single businessman for taking advantage of such a dumb populace. People here are so dumb they don’t care that there is a deficit of $400 million, education is in shambles, social services are virtually nil, actual unemployment is over 13%, poverty is at an all-time high, violent crime is skyrocketing, etc.

  3. So even if the Assembly does not gain the two-thirds supermajority, the legislature can punt to the Clark County Commission to gain passage? If so, and I assume NDOT represents all of Nevada, how is it that a local Commission gains control over a massive amount of funds that, potentially, every tax-paying resident in Nevada will be accountable should the “tourism tax” fall short?

    • It takes a 2/3 majority to approve a tax hike, but only a simple majority to okay a county raising taxes, if the county commission votes by a 2/3 supermajority.

      • Which they will because all of them with the exception of one commissioner support this. Two of them sits on the LVCVA Board. In fact, I believe the man is actually the Chairman of the Board. So this is not a shock.

  4. Really? This is the concern?

    I-15 is the major thoroughfare through Las Vegas. It backs up for a lot of reasons. It already backs up Sunday afternoons as the weekend trippers from LA head home and others head to the airport. Airport taxis use the road heavily (word to the wise, for many casinos the taxi will suggest taking 15 which may save you 3 minutes and double your fare vs. surface streets).

    The stadium may cause another peak load on the freeway, but it would not require an extra lane on the whole freeway, HOV lanes, or improvement to exit ramps on the entire other side of the strip. Attributing that to the stadium is silly.

    This is a massive giveaway in stadium funds, TIF kickbacks and much else. No one seems to have a problem with that but unrelated highway projects are the issue? Man, Nevada is a stupid state.

    • Well, if Nevada DOT is planning on spending $800m on new lanes and ramps if a stadium is built, then it hardly matters whether it’s needed, does it?

      Unless you’re suggesting that DOT is just using the stadium as an excuse to demand $800m for stuff it wants to build anyway. In which case, maybe, though then it sounds like Sandoval needs to get everybody on the same page here.

      • Bingo. See above. NDOT’s main concern is to get that fuel-indexing bill passed. And Neil there’s more. It has been discovered NDOT was going to wait until November to drop this AND lied to a Clark County Commissioner in her face (the same one who opposes the stadium).

        Citizens are beyond pissed about this. Heads will roll over this.

      • Just utilizing the sniff test stadium-related transportation improvements tend to happen near the stadium site, not, for example at the I-15/I-215 interchange, which is not near the stadium but is near the airport.

        This is just a grab bag of projects which may or may not be needed. However, to be generous a small portion of that price tag is associated with the stadium and quite possibly none of it is.

        This is the flip side of the “every dollar of economic can be attributed to the stadium” line of thinking. Every dollar of freeway improvement is being shoved in with the stadium.

        • That’s not all. The cops and firemen are in on the fun as well, despite squandering millions of dollars from the last sales tax increases. The State of Nevada has truly lived up to their reputation as the dumbest state in the country.

  5. Looks like it passed the Assembly with a few amendments. Seems like this will go through. Wow.

  6. Yup, it passed. This effectively means Oakland has a very limited amount of time to offer a competing deal. Has anyone seen any information indicating Oakland would do that? I’m saying there’s a chance we’re done here.

    • This article was posted on the last thread:

      Some quotes:

      “We are bringing what we have to the table to keep the Raiders,” Schaaf said.

      and …
      Nor is anyone ready to say exactly what the city of Oakland, Alameda County or the authority that oversees the Coliseum will kick in, although Schaaf said they could come up with “upwards of $200 million” to improve the infrastructure on the site.

      One thing Schaaf will not do is try to match Las Vegas’ offer to kick in $750 million in hotel tax money toward a stadium. Nevada legislators are meeting this week to decide whether to approve the deal.

      “Oakland made that mistake in the past and will not repeat it,” Schaaf said, recalling the $180 million Coliseum rebuild from the 1990s that taxpayers are still paying off.

      In other words…Oakland will upgrade the electrical and plumbing and repave the parking lots.

  7. And now Eddie DeBartolo could be in the mix to keep the Raiders in Oakland:

  8. That $800 in road improvements was clarified to have already been approved and on the budget. They’ll be spending that money whether the stadium is built or not. Stadium related public investment stays at $750 mil. All this according to ESPN.

    • I’m not finding this on — do you have a link to the story? As noted in the original item above, Nevada DOT claimed from the start that it would be spending the money regardless — but not necessarily now, and not with money that had been allocated yet, meaning this could push back other projects (or be used as leverage to get DOT’s wish list funded, making the “whether the stadium is built or not” bit kind of not so much true).

      • I think this was the article that I read.

        Doesn’t mention the $800 mil in road infrastructure, just that the $750 mil will come almost exclusively from hotel and tourism-related taxes and not from the wallets of your average Nevadan. I clearly remember an article that explicitly stated that road improvement stuff to be complete BS, which I think it is. You could redo the entire interstate system and it wouldn’t cost that much.

    • And here’s another, more recent report in which DOT reiterates that building these road projects will require state gas-tax money and force other projects to be delayed:

      • Again, use the sniff test. That has zero new surface streets connecting to the stadium. It has am HOV lane and a dedicated HOV ramp at every exit that goes to a casino.

        This is designed to shave time off your taxi ride from the airport to the Bellagio. Sure, if you accept the premise that this stadium will bring millions and millions of additional tourists to Las Vegas you can attribute that to the stadium. However, if you are tempted to believe this I would suggest reading an excellent post titled “Vegas needs the NFL or else tourists will go to Dallas, and other Raiders stadium arguments” that will obliterate this line of thinking.