LAS VEGAS — Proponents of an NFL stadium in Las Vegas aren’t budging on their request for $750 million in hotel tax dollars and don’t want to return any profits to the public, saying Thursday that the community benefit would come in more tourism and jobs.
The comments came as the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee met to continue discussions on a financing plan for a venue that could be home to the Raiders.
“We’re giving up a lot of money, a lot of capital. The return is infinitesimal, if there is a return,” said Robert Goldstein of the Las Vegas Sands casino company, whose billionaire boss Sheldon Adelson plans to put $650 million to the project. “This city gets an amazing boost in tourism.”
Backers said they’re anxious to get the proposal past the oversight committee and Nevada lawmakers in the next few weeks so NFL owners can review the team’s proposed relocation in January.
Members of the oversight committee expressed concerns about the pending deal to build a 65,000-seat domed stadium near the Las Vegas Strip that carries a price tag of about $1.9 billion.
Even if lawmakers accept a plan to raise the hotel tax on the Las Vegas Strip by about 1 percentage point and put $750 million toward the project, the public could be on the hook for an undetermined amount of other, ancillary costs. It was unclear who would be responsible for access roads, overpasses and off-site parking.
“Do we have to find special funding?” asked Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman. “This is not their problem. It’s how we get to you.”
In addition, the anticipated jobs and tourism from a stadium might not materialize. Projections are based on the venue landing 46 professional and college sports games and concerts each year — a prospect that representatives from the Sands said would be difficult.
“The public is taking a risk,” said committee chairman Steve Hill of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “The job creation and tax generation are both contingent on those events actually happening.”
But Sands officials balked at some restrictions in a draft proposal, including a provision that the public’s contribution should make up no more than 39 percent of the stadium’s total cost. Stadium backers said they’d get a “woefully inadequate” return on investment — an estimated 3.4 percent if they met their event planning goals — and said profit-sharing provisions and contribution caps are unprecedented for stadium deals.
“What’s a little unfair is the perception that somehow we’re getting a great deal and we’re really difficult guys and we’re pulling a fast one,” Goldstein said. “I think it’s just the opposite. I think we’re making a very, very strong offer . to bring a lot of good things to Las Vegas.”
The oversight committee, composed of government officials and business leaders, could vote on a funding plan recommendation at a meeting next Thursday. That recommendation would then go to Gov. Brian Sandoval, who could decide to convene a special legislative session needed to approve any tax hike.
If lawmakers give the green light, the Raiders would still need to win the support of three-fourths of NFL owners to approve a move from Oakland. That could come when owners meet again in January.