​John L. Smith On The Stadium Board​ And Circus Circus


(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

In this June 4, 2019, file photo, construction cranes surround the football stadium under construction in Las Vegas. The $1.9 billion stadium being built in Las Vegas for the relocated NFL Raiders team is being named for Allegiant Travel Co.

The stadium’s on its way to completion, so does it matter who sits on the nine-member stadium authority board? 


Apparently so, with 28 people trying for a position that will be open when union rep Tommy White’s position expires. 


“The public vetting of the stadium and its progress and just what the rules are is all played out at the Stadium Authority Board. That nine-member board. The meetings are fascinating in their way,” Nevada Public Radio contributor John L. Smith said.

He said the board oversees the budget for the stadium, which includes $750 million in public funds from a hotel room tax. 

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“It is ... one part a cheerleading session. They are not on the board because they’re against the stadium idea. Everyone seems to be very much for it. They are for it moving forward in a fairly transparent manner,” Smith said.

It also investigates criticisms, including a current whistleblower complaint about safety on the construction site. It is also working on the parking issues that are expected when the stadium opens. Despite those controversies, Smith sees many positives from the stadium.

“It never hurts when the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is doing a tour and espousing the great progress that is being made, [and] also talking about Las Vegas as a Super Bowl city," Smith said.

With all the power the board has, it is little wonder people are interested in being on it. Even Tommy White is reapplying for his position.

“Tommy White is the most pugnacious labor leader in the community,” Smith said.

He heads Laborers Union 872 and was a big cheerleader for the project in the first place.

Smith explained that the Laborers and White have "often been at loggerheads" with other unions, including the very powerful Culinary Union.

But Smith said White doesn't seem to care about ruffling feathers and has made some enemies in town.

Another union leader, Geoconda Arguello-Kline, the secretary-treasurer of the Culinary Union, is also applying for a position on the stadium board.


“I think this is a great deal for [Phil] Ruffin,” Smith said of the recent sale of the property to the owner of the TI.

Smith acknowledged that some people might describe the venerable property as 'frayed at the seams,' but it also makes a lot of money -- Smith noted that it is popular with the low-rollers and families.

The bigger point about the property is that it includes the Las Vegas Festival Grounds -- 37 acres of land leading to Sahara Avenue.

“You have to wonder why that isn’t the new anchor of the North Strip. Maybe with Ruffin’s imagination and bankroll maybe we’ll get something out of that,” Smith said.


John L. Smith, contributor

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