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To vote or not to vote: That is the question on stadium

Posted at 6:27 AM, Sep 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-15 02:40:44-04

UPDATE, 4 PM: As a vote grows more likely Thursday at the stadium committee, two more pieces of information, one political and one substantive:

First the political: Democratic sources tell me that neither Senate nor Assembly caucuses are behind the stadium. Concerns about the lack of legislative representation on the stadium authority and workforce diversity guarantees combine with  questions about why they would do a favor for a billionaire GOP megadonor who has tried to defeat some of them. And the thought of putting public money into a stadium through a tax increase does not appeal to Democrats right before an election.

"I haven't heard anybody say anything good about it," said one source familiar with the Assembly Democrats' thinking.

Another Democratic insider said he doesn't believe the governor will call for a special session before the election, although that it what Adelson has demanded. Remember there are only five weeks until early voting starts, so rounding up the votes and getting a session done, complete with fundraising blackout, is quite a needle to thread. But could the governor reach across the aisle and mollify the Democrats before the session begins? I can't imagine he'd call it unless he could guarantee success.

Second, a little-noticed issue is in the "Decision Point 3"  document below. It essentially says the committee should choose between exempting the stadium from any new taxes or in lieu of that, guaranteeing the developers get reimbursed for any new taxes assessed if, for instance, the Live Entertainment tax were expanded to include the Las Vegas Raiders. (Lawmakers do like to find new revenue sources.)

That would raise a policy question: The developers would argue any LET is cannibalizing dollars that would be spent at the stadium; the public might argue this is a good way for the stadium to help finance other needs.

Miles to go before this is resolved. Tune into KTNV tonight, and expect more at Thursday's meeting.


UPDATE, 9:30 AM: If you look closely at the "Decision Points Two" document, the committee has two alternatives to consider: One, Alternative A, gives the public a share of the profits and limits the public contribution to 39 percent. The other, Alternative B, gives the Sands everything it wants -- no cap on percentage, no profit-sharing. 

Also, note on the stadium authority proposal, the governor has added one appointment, giving him three of the seven members. 

And one wild card: The infrastructure costs. Not on site, but off-site. Flyovers, bridges, more lanes. Who pays for the impact of 80,000 people getting in and out? That could be expensive.

So now you have this situation, as a vote becomes more likely: If the committee votes out Alternative A, does the Sands walk away? And if so, how does the governor call a special session that would be guaranteed to be chaos? If the panel votes out Alternative B, it will look as if they caved to all of the Sands demands? How could they do that? And how could the governor call a special session under THOSE circumstances?

Is there a Plan C?

This has all the hallmarks of a meeting to remember Thursday.

UPDATE, 8 AM: I have obtained materials passed out last night. No change on $750 million, but new proposals on stadium authority appointments and tax exemptions. I think the developers will be happy.

The phone lines have been burning up the last few days as Sandsmen try to get a vote on Sheldon Adelson’s gift to the community.

No guarantee there will be a vote, and Gov. Brian Sandoval does not want a special session unless the votes are there in Carson City. (My assessment is they are not yet, despite Sandsmen’s assertions to the contrary).

Just as there were rumors of a Sept. 12 session and Adelson lieutenant Andy Abboud once boasted of an August session, the latest end-of-September/early October rumors are just that. But if they vote Thursday, it will happen, I’d guess.

UPDATE, 7:40 AM: I've learned that a new draft of the bill was given to committee members last night. Financial issues still up in the air as are profit-sharing and board appointments. I'm told the issue of appointments will be decided at Thursday's meeting. 

One hangup, I’m reliably told: Who pays for what could be hundreds of millions in infrastructure improvements. Sandoval has raised this issue, and there is a lot of private dialogue going on. I hear the Sands folks are lobbying committee members for a vote. Hard to see any of the other gamers standing up to Adelson, but will they really simply rubber-stamp what Adelson wants? That is, $750 million in public money, no profit-sharing, no cap on public money portion as percentage of cost.

One problem for the Sands: Most of the higher-ups are in Macau this week for the opening of Adelson’s new place. 

As one insider told me: “I think something will pass the committee. I just don’t know what it will be.”

Carson City is beautiful in the fall. Just the time for a $1.1 billion tax increase (with the convention center expansion, which the governor really wants, I’m told) so the Gang of 63 can boast of $2.6 billion in new taxes passed in two years….