The Associated Press has a report out today that indicates that there are a few things about that $1.4 billion Las Vegas stadium for the Oakland Raiders that proponents Sheldon Adelson and Mark Davis might not have gotten precisely correct. Like, for starters, it may now cost $1.6 billion, because nobody remembered to include land costs. And about that land: They’re not actually sure where it will be:
[Las Vegas Sands executive Robert] Goldstein, who presented the stadium plan, made it clear that if a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, campus site is deemed to be too close to McCarran International Airport, project planners will need to quickly find another 40 acres.
Somebody unknown being on the hook to pay an unknown price for an unknown 40 acres of land in an unknown location is pretty alarming for a stadium deal that Adelson’s Sands Corp. is trying to get approved this year (“come January, if we’re not real, this has all been fun, but a waste of time,” said Goldstein). But, incredibly, that’s not the most alarming thing that Goldstein said yesterday:
As proposed, $750 million in public funding would come from a slice of hotel room tax revenues, or about $50 million per year. Commissioners were told that would add a little more than $1 per night to the average tourist’s hotel room bill.
Goldstein insisted it wasn’t taxpayer money.
The AP doesn’t provide an actual quote from Goldstein, so I don’t know whether he’s arguing that hotel taxes don’t affect Vegas residents because they’re only paid by out-of-towners (in which case he’s wrong) or that they’re not really taxes because they come out of hotel owners’ revenues (in which case he’s also wrong). But “insisting that tax money isn’t taxpayer money” is a great first step in any candidacy for the Chutzpah Hall of Fame.
Also, if anybody at the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee hearing asked about the TIF district that would kick back property (and sales?) taxes from inside (and around?) the stadium, wherever it ends up going, that didn’t make it into the AP article. So the total public cost still needs to be described as “at least $750 million, and possibly a heck of a lot more.” This is totally something the Nevada legislature should vote on as soon as possible, without asking more questions, because that always works out just great.