Public cost of Las Vegas Raiders stadium could rise, thanks to transportation projects

Okay, one more quick one: The bills are starting to come in for the Raiders stadium project in Las Vegas, and they could end up adding to the $750 million in public subsidies the stadium is getting for construction costs. First up: $200 million to rebuild a highway interchange near the stadium site, to be financed with state bonds and repaid with gas taxes.

This highway project has been in the works for a while, so you can’t really say that it’s the result of the stadium project, though the stadium will certainly benefit from it. But there could be more to come: Clark County still needs to study transportation, parking, utility, and other needs, and given that construction is set to be on a tight 30-month timetable — “of the last four domed NFL stadiums built, none have been completed within 30 months,” notes the Las Vegas Review-Journal — one has to be concerned that the studies will be rushed, or even put off until after construction has started, as we saw happen with Cobb County’s Atlanta Braves stadium, to ill effect. This looked like a bad idea at the time the state voted to approve the stadium before doing transportation studies, and it’s not looking any better after the fact.


19 comments on “Public cost of Las Vegas Raiders stadium could rise, thanks to transportation projects

  1. Here we go. In the comments of the Key Arena post there was a thread about the Neil Calculation. Adding infrastructure to a stadium’s cost would be an example of that.

    • As I wrote very clearly in this post: If it’s something that would be built anyway, it’s not part of the stadium cost. If it’s something that wouldn’t be built anyway, it is.

      • Actually as a life-long born and bred resident I can speak directly on this issue. First off, this project was planned years in advance but put on the back burner because there are more pressing infrastructure projects. The Raiders stadium accelerated this to the forefront. Second, this project is being funded by another tax much more devastating than the hotel tax. Raising the fuel tax beyond the rate of inflation will led to billions of dollars flowing into the coffers of a select few, namely Las Vegas Paving. Naturally, citizens who voted for this ridiculous bill need not complain when a gallon of gas exceeds $3.50 this summer. You voted for it.

        The problem I have with this albatross of a stadium is that it will never ever achieve the economic benefits it claims to be. Plus, the people who are for this are the same people who rail against raising taxes for public services, education, housing, etc.

        • I believe the interchange being discussed was not scheduled until 2030 or so. I wasn’t aware of a an additional fuel tax to fund this. Up in the north we just figured all NDOT money would be funneled to Vegas for this boondoggle, leaving the rest of the state’s roads to continue to deteriorate beyond their current execrable condition.

      • Neil,

        I fundamentally disagree. One aspect of government is to create infrastructure for things that are being built.

        • In that case, I’m going to build my new home in the middle of the Utah salt flats, where land is cheap. It’s kind of far from anything, but I’m sure you won’t mind building me a bullet train to get to work in NYC.

        • Those “things being built” should benefit all of the citizens to earn governmental infrastructure funding, not a select few.

        • When municipalities build infrastructure they do so on the basis that the serviced land (whatever service is provided… sometimes general utilities, sometimes roads, sometimes parks or public walkways) will be sold at a large enough profit to at least cover the cost of engineering, servicing and the like. Sometimes it can take several years for all of the improved lands to be sold and thus the initial investment (generally more than 100%) recouped.

          So, no, “the government” doesn’t build infrastructure for projects. Taxpayers pay for infrastructure up front and the cost for providing same is recovered as the land and improved areas are sold.

          Except for stadia, of course. No recouping that cost unless the leases are written with the taxpayers in mind.

  2. I could easily be wrong but I can easily see the Chargers being back in San Diego in a decade or two and the Raiders ultimately ending up in LA.

    The Chargers were in LA for a grand total of one year and the only thing they offer to prospective fans that makes them different from the Rams is being in the AFL. The Raiders will always be LA’s second team and will always appeal to fans as an alternative in ways the Chargers never can. And we all know Vegas isn’t a pro sports city led alone one that can support an NFL franchise. Their population figures are not at all an accurate measure because Vegas is and always will be entertainment first. There’s no “there” there.

    This reminds me of the Sonics moving to Oklahoma City, except Vegas is basically a giant Atlantic City and there’s no real community to rally around the team or support a small market franchise. Like many things out there, it’s all a mirage.

    • The Raiders will never be in LA because the Rams will do whatever necessary to prevent that mainly due in part of LA already being a Raiders town. The Chargers should have came to Vegas and the Raiders to LA.

      • And by “do whatever necessary to prevent
        the Raiders from moving to LA I think that meant suckering the Chargers into moving to LA. Which blocked the Raiders. Which is good for the Rams.

    • While I tend to agree that Las Vegas is not a pro-sport city. To call LV anything remotely like Atlantic City is a major stretch.

      LV has significantly more people, a major airport and much more wealth than AC.

      • It has significantly more people because its borders are ridiculous. AC is a genuinely urban East Coast city that in its heyday was more like Miami Beach than anything.

        But like Vegas Atlantic City since the 70s has been a town based largely around the casino industry. There are 600,000 or so people there but how many aren’t transient? That makes the useful population in terms of building a fanbase a lot smaller. Like the size of Allentown or Stockton, CA small. It’s like Hollywood if LA didn’t exist.

    • And when the Raiders visit in Week 17, that will be the most telling because most of the fans that brought season tickets are likely Raiders fans.

  3. If the interchange has been “in the works” for some time, this is probably because a bottleneck exists that is limiting development (hindering traffic flow etc) downstream somewhere.

    Once that bottleneck is removed, the city should expect to see improved land values and/or additional development downstream of the capital project. Will that still happen now that some of the affected land is being used for a sports stadium that will be effectively exempt from taxation (at least as far as property tax goes)?

    Does the interchange improvement have anything to do with airport traffic (sorry, not from Vegas, don’t know…)

    It’s a bit like Pac Bell park and it’s offramp (or was it an interchange?). Yes, improvements were going to happen there anyway. That doesn’t mean that the infrastructure built for the stadium would have been built at the same capacity/cost regardless of whether a 40,000 seat stadium was built there.

    If the developer had been building housing or a big box store community at that site, they would have paid a significant percentage of the access cost and done so willingly (building a shopping centre without road access is a non starter). Why are sports different?

    • That interchange does not impact the airport.

      On a side note: taxi drivers in Vegas for years have snookered unsuspecting tourists by asking those at the airport if they “want to take the freeway”. Many have no idea that adds at least $10 to the fare going to the Strip.

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