Oakland Raiders, Las Vegas Sands NFL Stadium Proposal Pure Insanity – Walter Spargo

By Walter Spargo, Raiders blogger at Cover32

Merriam-Webster defines a scam simply as “a dishonest way to make money by deceiving people.” That is exactly what is going on in Las Vegas. The evidence is overwhelming: just do an Internet search for publicly funded stadiums. You can go through at least seven pages of articles, studies and reports, which overwhelmingly say that stadiums are a bad investment for taxpayers, and that they never deliver on their promise of more jobs and economic benefits to the public.

A little common sense from public officials is all it takes to put a permanent stop to this debacle. The common denominator in every instance is nothing but bond payments, increased taxes to pay the operating and maintenance costs and a bunch of minimum wage, part-time jobs. The salt in the wound is the increased demand on public safety, for which the city, county or both also have to pay.

The Nevada governor and legislature need to tell Las Vegas Sands Corp., Majestic Realty Co. and the Oakland Raiders to pay for their own $1.9 billion stadium or else kick rocks. The level of stupidity has reached new heights with so many people saying that the tourists are the ones paying for it. Nevada’s tourism is a commodity, and the tax revenue it brings in belongs to the public entity that levees it. Raising taxes and giving the money to billionaires before said tax is even added to the funds it was designated for—all under the claim that residents don’t have to pay that tax—is pure insanity.

If we are going to gouge the guests of our state, those taxes should be used to improve the quality of life for the residents of the state. That’s an even higher priority for a place like Las Vegas, which was hit harder than any city in the nation by the Great Recession of 2008.

These billionaires tell us lies to get hundreds of millions in what is essentially welfare. They try and convince us that we will benefit, but the truth is that we do not; they do. I’ve got to hand it to them, though. Their counterparts have been pretty successful across the country in milking the public dry, while they fatten their bank accounts.

Sands executives at the Aug. 25 meeting of the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee gave an ultimatum: either they get $750 million in funds from the public, or they will walk away from the deal. So we have two options:

  • We give a man who is the 22nd richest man on the planet, Sheldon Adelson, $750 million in public money by raising taxes on our guests, the tourists. In return, assuming that all these economists who say that stadiums are a bad investment of public money are correct, we get:
    1. A publicly owned stadium that will take decades to pay off (barring any recessions or decreases in tourism) and will end up costing us more to operate and maintain than the revenue it will bring to the state.
    2. Traffic snarls in an area already congested.
    3. Increased demand on public services.
    4. The possibility of hosting a Super Bowl every 10 years or so./li>
  • We don’t give Adelson $750 million in public money, and he walks away from one of the worst stadium deals in history. We don’t raise the taxes on the tourists even more than we already are in order to fund the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion, and we save ourselves all the hassles.

The choice is clear, and a recent survey showed that 55 percent of Nevadans are opposed to the public funding. Yet the SNTIC, which draws six of its 11 members from the gaming community, is forging ahead with reckless abandon on this madness.

Adelson has also made significant financial contributions (through Las Vegas Sands Corp., Las Vegas Sands LLC, Sands Expo & Convention Center and Venetian Casino Resort) to members of both political parties. For example, Nevada Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson received $50,000 between 2010 and 2014.

It makes sense that Adelson, a Republican who supports Donald Trump and has contributed millions of dollars to various GOP candidates and PACs over the years, would donate heavily to politicians like Roberson. But Adelson has also contributed to key Nevada Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford, who received $5,000, Senate Assistant Minority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who got $10,000, and Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, who got $20,000, around the time that this stadium deal is being hashed out by the SNTIC. Clearly trying to influence the outcome of the stadium proceedings, Adelson gave over $200,000 to Nevada politicians in May and June alone.

I strongly encourage every resident of this state to visit the website for the Nevada legislature, find out who represents your district, and send them a strongly worded, tactful and respectful message of opposition to this attempted scam. You do not need to stop there. Email Governor Brian Sandoval, and you can even email senators and representatives of other districts too. We have a responsibility to our children and future generations to stop our leaders from strapping us with this massive debt for a stadium, which will not bring a return on our investment.