Backers of a $1.9 billion proposal for a new NFL stadium in Las Vegas for the Oakland Raiders are demanding $750 million in public money to fund the project, or else they say they will walk away.
According to the AP, representatives of Majestic Realty and Las Vegas Sands met with an oversight committee in Las Vegas on Thursday, where they unveiled the first renderings of the 65,000-seat domed NFL stadium. They said they had narrowed down the search to two potential locations near the Las Vegas Strip.
They also said they would move on from the project unless state lawmakers agreed to contribute a minimum $750 million in public money.
“Not to be difficult, but we’re not negotiable,” said Sands President Rob Goldstein, speaking on behalf of billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. “If we can’t get 750, we respectfully thank you but we’re going to move on.”
The public money would reportedly come from a special taxation district around the proposed stadium, and a hotel tax.
Public funding would come from an increase in a Las Vegas-area hotel room tax and potentially from a special taxation district around the stadium. Proponents displayed sample room reservations from the Sands-owned Venetian casino to show the hotel tax hike would add about $1 to a nightly bill of $109.
“It would be so negligible it wouldn’t even be worth being concerned about,” Goldstein said.
Should Vegas officials agree to move forward with the stadium, it would be the most public money ever put toward a stadium.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, the proposal has been met by stark criticism.
“There’s been a lot of conversation on why are we giving money to billionaires,” Steve Hill, chair of the oversight committee and head of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, told the AP. “The public is not making a contribution to a privately owned stadium.”
Raiders’ owner Mark Davis has pledged $500 million toward the Las Vegas project, and on Thursday the team trademarked the phrase “Las Vegas Raiders”. Oakland, meanwhile, is reportedly working behind the scenes to get its own proposal for a new stadium together.
According to the AP, Sands officials are pushing for a special legislative session in September to vote on the stadium proposal, arguing that waiting until the November election would jeopardize the project.
If the financing for the stadium were to pass, 24 of the 32 NFL owners would then need to approve of the relocation. The owners next meet in January, where developers are reportedly hoping to have a pitch for Las Vegas ready.
It remains unclear which way the owners are leaning.
One of the biggest takeaways from Stan Kroenke’s successful bid to move the Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles was that NFL ownership is staunchly divided between old-guard owners like the Mara and Rooney families and the comparatively new-money owners like Jerry Jones and Kroenke.
These two factions of ownership will likely butt heads when it came to moving the Raiders to Las Vegas: John Mara has expressed trepidation about Las Vegas because of gambling and the casinos, whereas Jones and Kroenke are reportedly interested in the Las Vegas for the same reasons they were interested in Los Angeles: It is another big market for the league to tap into.
We’re still a long way away from any vote. For now, that $750 million sum sounds like it’s the x-factor to the entire project.
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