Gov. Brian Sandoval signed Senate Bill 1 Monday authorizing a $750 million tax subsidy for the $1.9 billion domed stadium planned to help bring the NFL to Las Vegas.
During last week’s special legislative session, the measure won bipartisan, supermajority approval that came amid concerns that the state was putting wants before needs.
Lawmakers took on a 30-year obligation by raising the hotel room tax in Las Vegas to finance the stadium and the expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Construction of the projects is projected to provide a $4 billion-plus boost to the Southern Nevada economy and strengthen the convention and tourism industries for the long term.
Paul Anderson, Assembly Majority leader - voted for Senate Bill 1
A majority of Republicans in the Legislature supported the tax increase for the stadium. Did something happen to make raising taxes more popular in your party?
"I think that the idea that we had a very focused area, some specific accomplishments that we wanted to get done and who was paying that tax, in general anyway, changed the attitude of a lot of folks on this side of it."
"I think when we have focused taxes that have some accountability measures, some claw-back measures, some protections for taxpayers and go for something that we believe is good for the overall public, I think that is where we stand strong"
"I think in the end we saw that it was beneficial. The pros outweighed the cons and it was an important step for Southern Nevada to move forward"
Andrew Zimbalist, professor, Smith College
"The problem is that when you spend hundreds of millions of dollars of public money on building a stadium, it's hundreds of millions of dollars that are not being spent on something else or they are not being given as tax reductions in some other areas. You are giving up something when you build a stadium and you're incurring long-term debit."
"And as far as I know, $750 million would be the largest public subsidy to a sports stadium built in the United States."
"Does it matter if it is the worst [deal] or the second worst or the fifth worst, the question is whether it's a beneficial deal or not. The independent economic studies suggest that this not something that promotes economic development. If the people of Las Vegas want to do this because having an NFL football team is so attractive culturally and socially and they're not expecting an economic benefit from it - it is rather an economic cost - then fine have them pay the cost and let them enjoy the stadium. I think that is perfectly appropriate but they shouldn't be doing this because they think it is a tool for economic development"
Robert Lang, Brookings Mountain West
"This is a deficit to our city in that it is the largest structure for live entertainment and the live entertainment sector has been booming in Las Vegas. And we have not had that type of facility. In fact, the interesting thing is we're one of the largest U.S. cities not having such a facility... Diversification within the core sector is necessary. So, we started with gaming. We built out to these other functions that are related to gaming. And our greatest success as a state isn't that we've diversified the economy of the state, it's that Las Vegas within the core as created other opportunities to leverage off the core economy. If you don't build this sector, we don't have money for anything"
Heidi Swank, Assembly member - voted against Senate Bill 1
"The economic analysis that was done on the stadium was paid for by the Adelson group, by Sands. And it was under the purview of the infrastructure committee to hire an outside, independent...analysis of this stadium proposal. And they did not do that. I think that did not provide good objective data to the Assembly and to the Senate to make a good analysis. That's a serious issue that we're just going along with what Sands has provided us, telling us this is going to work without doing independent analysis."
"If we're running the state on the backs of the poor in order to build a $1.9 billion stadium that will have tickets that are going to be in excess of $100 each. I know I can't afford to go to a Raiders' game at that ticket point. And I can't image a lot of these folks who live in these trailer parks, but are paying for it would be able to do that."
Chris Giunchigliani, Clark County Commissioner:
"When people say like Mr. Lang that it's tourists, it's not just tourist. Every daily, weekly [hotel] is going to be paying it in that 25 mile radius. That's my working folks and they're paycheck to paycheck as it is right now. That's not fair for them to have to be able to pick that up."
"I still think, in the long run, if you're going to do economic development...Cashman Center would be a place field wise to actually be able to redevelop an area."
"If they had really believed in the stadium, they should not have bundled the bill. Because the convention authority is what people wanted to vote for, some were stuck with the stadium in lieu of that, some wanted UNLV. I'm on the UNLV CIAB [Campus Improvement Authority Board]. We didn't recommend a domed stadium. We recommended an uncovered and we did different modifications"
"The events that people are claiming - the 46 events - here's how they're going to get it. They're going to take it away from the public convention authority. And when we did the analysis of the stadium and how many events that UNLV could get, it was maybe 18 to 20. I still don't know where the 46 came from."
Jan Jones Blackhurst, Caesars Entertainment
"We have not had a major investment on the Strip in over a decade and why does that matter? Because the way we diversify our economy, we're a tourist economy, is by bringing in other reasons that more tourists will come here."
"What this does is give a whole new way for tourists and for the gaming industry to market Las Vegas to bring not just 42 million people here but 45 million people here - 46 million - Those people pay for our schools. It's why we have one of the lowest property taxes in the country. It's why we pay no personal income tax, and it's why your economy can continue to grow"
"Every single member of the gaming industry agreed to this tax and if we thought in anyway it was going to discourage visitors or was going to help not grow the economy that would not have been the case"
Paul Anderson, Assembly majority leader; Heidi Swank, assemblywoman; Chris Giunchigliani, Clark County commissioner; Robert Lang, Brookings Mountain West; Andrew Zimbalist, Smith College professor
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