The city of Las Vegas has finally released some details on how to fund that MLS stadium for a nonexistent MLS team that Cordish Cos. wants to build because it has an option on some land and doesn’t know what else to do with it. According to that newspaper that just laid off half the sportswriters I know and let them learn about it on Twitter, here’s the scoop:
The stadium would be located in the city of Las Vegas’s downtown Symphony Park area and the total project cost, including interest on bonds, would be $410 million. Sixty-nine percent of that would be privately funded and 31 percent would come from public sources. The statement says that the public funding would mostly come from taxes collected on tourists and from public infrastructure funds.
Okay, that’s a little vague, but at least it spells out the split: 69% private, 31% public, which — wait, what’s that, Las Vegas Review-Journal?
The city of Las Vegas would be responsible for more than $150 million — or more than 75 percent — toward the cost of a $200 million, 24,000-seat soccer stadium in Symphony Park that would be built for a possible Major League Soccer team, according to a term sheet obtained Tuesday by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The term sheet contradicts a press release distributed Tuesday by the city and its two private soccer stadium partners, which stated, “59 percent of these (stadium) costs would be privately financed.”
The Review-Journal later goes into more detail, which explains that the $150 million public subsidy isn’t quite that bad: The team would pay about $4 million a year in rent and shares of non-soccer revenue, which would cut the public’s total cost to, let’s call it maybe $90 million. (That “total project cost” of $410 million was apparently bulked up with future interest payments and the cost of acquiring an expansion team in the first place, which is major-league-level chutzpah, at least.) Though there’s also no detail on who would pay operating costs for the stadium, so that $90 million could easily go back up again.
This whole mess will be presented to the city council next week, at which point it will likely proceed to three months of public hearings, with an actual vote slated for around December. In the meantime, we can look at the pretty pictures, which apparently involve a translucent roof and spotlights and all kinds of other stuff that seems unlikely to look that glitzy considering what $200 million typically buys you in a soccer stadium, but let’s ooh and aah anyway:
Oh, and all this is, of course, contingent on Vegas actually getting an MLS team, which is no sure thing given that there’s only one expansion slot left and tons of cities angling to fill it. But I guess if Minnesota is announcing it’s figured out how to divide up the rent from any future MLS team, Las Vegas has to do something to show that it’s ready, too, if only to stay even in the battle of press releases.
[UPDATE: Vegas councilmember Bob Beers writes to point me to his blog, which has a more detailed explanation of the stadium funding plan. In short: The city would put up $41 million in cash (some of it provided from sales taxes redirected, as discussed back in June, from a “Sales Tax Additional Revenue” district, i.e., a STIF), plus $115 million worth of bonds. Those bonds would be repaid via $3 million a year in park maintenance funds, plus $4-5 million a year in payments from the team — which would come out of soccer team profits (if there are any), and would otherwise presumably have to be covered by the city. In other words, we yet again have a scenario where an MLS team could be guaranteed to cover any losses before it would have to start paying for its stadium debt. It's almost like these guys compare notes, you know?]