If there were any lingering doubts about our editorial position on the stadium deal, hopefully this week’s cover image will allay them. The stadium deal is a grotesque, undead specter that should have been busted like so many ghosts. This is a bad deal for Nevada.
For more detailed reporting, please check out this week’s feature story on page 14, along with Sheila Leslie’s concurrent opinion on page six, but here’s a quick recap just in case you’ve been too distracted by the insane presidential race to follow this story: A few weeks ago, Governor Brian Sandoval called for a special session of the Nevada Legislature in order to rush through approval of a $750 million handout to help build a professional football stadium in Las Vegas, supposedly to host home games by the Raiders, currently of Oakland, California. This government handout is to be matched by lesser amounts contributed by billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson ($650 million) and by the Raiders organization ($500 million).
Just to be clear, we don’t object to the game of football, which can be a zesty enterprise, and our complaint is certainly not a partisan objection to the Raiders. (In fact, some of us have fond childhood memories of rooting for Marcus Allen during some of his amazing rushes.) If Adelson and the Raiders wanted to build a stadium in our state on their own dime, we might receive them with enthusiasm. Here’s what we don’t approve: Corporate welfare.
We don’t approve of handing out hundreds of millions of dollars—at least $750 million, although the bill seems to continuously grow—to people who already have plenty of it, like Adelson and Raiders majority owner Mark Davis.
The legislature approved an increase to the Clark County hotel room tax to supposedly cover the costs of building the stadium, and justified that by saying it would come from tourists drawn to Vegas to watch football. But what about those Nevadans who live—either for luxury or poverty—in hotels? And we Northerners often have to go to the south for business reasons—now we have to pay more for accommodations to support a billionaire and a football team? (And, as we’ve written before, for local fans of the franchise, we’re actually paying to move the team further away from Reno.)
And the Raiders might still not even make the move. It needs to be approved by a two-thirds majority of the NFL team owners—some of whom have been outspoken against Las Vegas in the past, ostensibly because of the corrupting influence of gambling on sports.
In wasting Nevada tax dollars to call for the special session, Gov. Sandoval was like a kid pulling a fire alarm because he forgot to study for a test. He wanted to railroad the deal so that legislators wouldn’t have time to examine it closely or talk to their constituents, and he wanted to get it done before the election, which will bring new blood into the legislature—new blood that might be less enthusiastic about being bamboozled.
Sure, there are (weak) arguments for the deal benefiting Clark County. But there’s no good reason any Northern legislator should have voted for it, and yet several of them did. See Upfront on page eight for the list, and remember that their names are to be scrupulously avoided whenever they appear on an election ballot.