Progressives have erected new website asking people to sign a petition to "stop the Las Vegas stadium scam" as a committee meets this week to once again consider a financing package for a proposed NFL/UNLV facility.
The new site has launched as Gov. Brian Sandoval, who has indicated privately he does not support the $750 million in public financing sought by the developers, plans to meet with Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson this week. Adelson's newspaper, The Las Vegas Review-Journal, weighed in Mondaywith the owner responding to my interview with MGM Resorts Jim Murren and insisting the stadium was essential while the proposed convention authority expansion is not. And the Reno Gazette-Journal came out forcefully against the project in an editorial headlined, “Block Las Vegas Raiders stadium deal.”
The new site comes a few weeks after I reported that a young ex-Bernie Sanders activist contacted lawmakers and set up a Facebook page to oppose public funding. It was set up by Howard Watts, a veteran of progressive causes in Nevada.
“Billionaires including Steve Wynn, Ed Roski of Majestic Realty, and Sheldon Adelson – who is ranked as the 22nd richest person in the world – are behind the plot to spend tax dollars on a stadium,” the site says. “If anybody can afford to finance such an effort on their own, it’s these folks.”
The site contains a link to a petition that says:
“In cities across the country, the public is on the losing end of deals to pay for stadiums. Teams and other investors make money, but more tax dollars are spent than ever get collected. Costs are almost always higher than estimated.”
The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee meets Thursday and is expected to make a recommendation to state lawmakers next month. A special session would be needed to approve room tax increases for the stadium and the convention center, two issues that were linked by Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson last week and, not coincidentally, Adelson in the RJ. Roberson has been heavily backed by Las Vegas Sands and his coupling of the two was challenged by committee member Steve Sisolak in the RJ story.
Sandoval's meeting with Adelson was first reported by Bleacher Report's Jason Cole, who also tweeted that the committee will recommend between $590 million to $650 million in room taxes for the project. That would still be a substantial chunk of the stadium, which has been estimated to cost anywhere from $1.4 billion to $2.1 billion. Sisolak indicated to me on KTNV that he might vote for a third of the total funding being public.
A Sandoval spokesman confirmed the meeting with Adelson, but also said the governor is meeting with Chairman Steve Hill and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who wants the stadium downtown. The developers still have no deal for a site, although they are focused on the Bali Hai golf course and/or a nearby Russell Road site.
Hill has said the public should share in the profits if there is room tax money, and details of a proposed tax increment district, which would allow the billionaires to recoup their investment, remain murky.
I spoke with Annette Magnus of Battle Born about the new website, StadiumScam.com, Tuesday.