As legislators from every corner of Nevada prepare for another special session to approve a massive economic development project, here are some things to bear in mind for conservatives as it relates to the proposed Las Vegas Dome stadium.
■ The proposal doesn’t make sense without the stadium coming with an NFL football team. That’s the “hurry.” Owners will be meeting early next year to consider letting the Oakland Raiders move here. No Raiders, no deal.
■ The “public money” being discussed is $750 million worth of room tax dollars already being collected from tourists staying in Las Vegas. The only way a Nevadan will pay anything for the stadium is if they spend the night at a Las Vegas hotel.
■ The purpose of the room tax is to fund programs and projects that enhance tourism and entertainment in the Las Vegas metro area. A stadium that can host, not just football games, but all manner of other large special events is exactly what these tax dollars were intended to be used for.
■ If you argue otherwise, fine. But if it’s not OK to use room tax dollars to fund the stadium, then it’s not OK to use room tax dollars to subsidize the Las Vegas Convention Center – which competes against privately-owned convention facilities and has other ways to fund an expansion.
■ The stadium will be publicly owned and operated. This is not, as some are misleadingly claiming, a private stadium for billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
■ Under the current proposal, the room tax will provide $750 million for construction costs and the private investors, including Mr. Adelson, will put up $1.15 billion – plus cover any and all cost overruns.
■ Millions of dollars of tax revenue generated at and by the stadium will be returned to Nevada taxpayers to be used for roads, schools, social welfare programs, etc.
■ Comparisons of the Las Vegas Dome proposal vs. other stadium projects are apples to Spaghetti-O’s. Using tourist-generated room taxes instead of resident-generated sales and property taxes is the proverbial horse of a different color.
So the question for fiscal conservatives and legislators shouldn’t be whether or not to use existing revenue from the tourist-paid room tax, but whether or not to raise the room tax rate. And we don’t have to.
Instead, just shift existing tax revenue that’s now going to subsidize the Las Vegas Convention Center to the Las Vegas Dome. No tax hike; not even on tourists! A win-win for all concerned.
As the saying goes, opportunity only knocks once. And this is probably the only opportunity Las Vegas will have in our lifetime to diversify and expand its entertainment opportunities while landing an NFL football team. Let’s hope Nevada legislators don’t blow this opportunity.
Sheldon Adelson and the Las Vegas Sands have been longtime financial supporters of Citizen Outreach. Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach and publisher of NevadaNewsandViews.com
The Adelson family is the owner of Las Vegas Review-Journal Inc., which owns this newspaper.