Friday roundup: Sacramento faces cuts to pay arena debt, Henderson approves arena debt, music festival to be held in phantom Yankee Stadium parking lot

Sorry, getting a late start today, let’s get straight to the news without delay:

City of Henderson explains $60m hockey arena subsidy by releasing cloud of random numbers

One of the sports arena projects still moving ahead despite the uncertain future of both sports and arenas is the minor-league hockey arena in Henderson, Nevada, which had $60 million in public bonds approved last month, though official approval of the project itself is still a ways off. So the Henderson city government is still hard at work justifying its expense, and yesterday they came up with a doozy:

City of Henderson says new arena would create 106% return on investment in first year

“The economic output of the Event Center will, directly and indirectly, enhance sales tax in the area, and the City will benefit from taxes related to construction of the new venue,” said Jim McIntosh, Chief Financial Officer…

The analysis outlined the City of Henderson would benefit $40.9 million over 20 years in projected savings and tax revenue.

In addition, the one-year return for the proposed center was projected at 106.57 percent based on the matching investment from the Vegas Golden Knights.

That is some impressive math salad! Spending $60 million in public money would create $40.9 million over 20 years in savings (on maintaining the amphitheater currently on the site) and new tax revenue, which would amount to a 106.75% return in one year! No need for 3 News Las Vegas to question that, or to provide a link to the actual report!

Coverage in the Las Vegas Review-Journal wasn’t much more illuminating, though it did provide two different uninstructive numbers: the arena would “generate a projected economic output of about $17 million to $26 million” (per year? does this account for any spending just siphoned off from other local businesses?) and “could sustain 89 to 122 jobs” (full-time equivalent or part-time?). And I can’t find anything on the City of Henderson website, or on the site of the analytics company that conducted the study, so your guess is as good as mine as to what it all means. Other than “People are griping about us spending $60 million in tax money on a private sports arena in the midst of a global pandemic, somebody come up with some numbers to throw at them, stat! No, I don’t care if they add up, you think journalists have time to find a calculator and check them? This isn’t 2010, people!”

In return to normalcy, Nevada city approves $60m in arena bonds to steal hockey team from San Antonio

The Henderson, Nevada city council voted yesterday on authorizing $60 million in public bonds to pay for a minor-league hockey arena for an affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights, and if you thought they were going to reject it just because the economy is collapsing and hundreds of thousands of people may die, you really must be new to this site:

The Henderson City Council voted 4-1 today to approve $60 million in bonds to finance an arena for the Golden Knights’ new American Hockey League affiliate…

Councilman Dan Stewart suggested waiting six months to see how the economy shapes up before considering adding debt.

“If there is no immediate need for these bonds, why even consider the sale of them at this time?” Stewart said.

Most of the public comment was on his side, with about double the number of commenters opposed to the bonds compared to those in favor.

(I know what you’re probably wondering here: How was there public comment when Nevada is under a lockdown prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people? Maybe they decided to allow city council meetings to resume, and will just start shutting down whichever ones start leading to mass die-offs?)

The new Henderson team would be the relocated San Antonio Rampage AHL team, which the Golden Knights bought in February with the intention of moving them closer to their NHL club. As discussed yesterday, only about $30 million of the bond money is expected to go to arena construction, though it’s not clear whether some of the other “improvements” it would fund are arena-related as well. And the council still has to vote on the arena project itself now that the financing has been approved, though if they voted 4-1 to approve this amid public outcry, it certainly doesn’t bode well for the council suddenly playing hardball when it’s time for the followup vote. I guess at least it’s nice to see that some things are already returning to normal despite the pandemic, though honestly I would have taken “unemployment rates under 20 percent” ahead of this.



Nevada city to vote on building $30m minor-league hockey arena during global pandemic, because JOBS!!!

For all of youse who’ve been commenting and emailing to suggest that a global pandemic and economic collapse is surely going to bring at least a temporary end to the constant cycle of sports-venue subsidies that has been ongoing for more than 30 years now, Henderson, Nevada is here to tell you: NUH-UH, IT WON’T.

On Tuesday, what to do with the Henderson Pavilion will come back before the Henderson City Council.

It may take action on issuing $60 million in bonds to pay for turning the now 20-year-old outdoor venue into a year-round entertainment spot and hockey arena.

When we last discussed this back in February, which in coronavirus time was roughly 200 years ago, Henderson was looking at building the arena for a minor-league affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights as a “public-private partnership,” with no further details of how the funding would work. It now looks like the total public cost will be $60 million, though some of that would also pay for such things as park improvements and a police station; a previous article estimated the arena would cost $30 million to build, but then added “there is no estimated cost for the proposal of the arena,” so maybe take that one with a grain of salt.

(This Henderson arena, it is important to note, is different from the practice rink that Henderson is already spending $10 million to build for the Golden Knights, which at last word was still scheduled to open this July, not that there will likely be any hockey players to practice in it.)

Are there people saying now’s not the time to spend tens of millions of city dollars on a minor-league hockey arena for a team that is already getting city dollars for a practice rink? You betcha!

Given how the economy is now on a virus-induced ventilator, they say now’s not the time to borrow.

“We need to take a step back, we need to regroup, we need to really assess where the community is and what the needs are,” says [John] Dalrymple [of Henderson Coalition for Responsible Government].

Though Dalrymple also added, “We’re not opposed to an arena. It’s the location.” So maybe his group is more concerned about traffic than about the $30 million, actually.

And what’s the argument in favor of the arena?

Henderson real estate agent Trish Nash says the bond issue is the right thing to do. She sits on the city’s comprehensive planning committee.

“This is going to bring jobs,” she tells me and says an arena will not hurt the neighborhood. She just sold a house there.

“One of the reasons that this particular buyer bought, and this is walking distance from the pavilion, is they’re very excited about what going to happen with the arena,” she says.

JOBS! In particular, jobs for realtors who want to sell houses to people who for some reason want to live down the street from a minor-league hockey arena. And who can put a price on that?

We’ll see how the Henderson council votes today (which is just a vote on approving the arena bonds; the arena project itself would be voted on later), but this should help make it extremely clear that no sports teams are going to stop asking for subsidies just because the world has changed, and no elected officials are going to stop considering handing them out, and no one is going to stop making dumb economic arguments about why they’re necessary. That would probably take the annihilation of all sentient life on earth by an asteroid strike — though even then, I could see sports team owners arguing that this was an indication of why they needed an asteroid-proof roof.