We Won’t Get Fooled Again

Because we’re uncomfortable showing the front cover

The “final” deal details for City of Las Vegas taxpayers to give public money to a downtown soccer stadium were released this week. It’s not very different from the last several sets of deal details, though it is much less risky for Las Vegas taxpayers than the first deal that was proposed (which had the city paying for almost all of it). And all of it is contingent on Las Vegas actually being awarded a soccer team (which seems less and less likely).

Here is what the City will be giving to the wealthy team owners:

  • The City will borrow $25-million and build the stadium’s parking garage. The team owners will be given free use of the garage for up to 90 event days per year, during which they will be able to keep whatever they can charge people to park. This will be only a little closer to the front door than the existing even larger garage at the World Market Center, which is nearly empty 49 weeks out of the year (the other three weeks are when the World Market Center holds its international home furnishings trade show, when it is full). This seems likely to spark a “rate war” on most game days, when the World Market Center might charge less for parking than the team owners will charge.
  • The City will give the team owners $56-million, about half of it borrowed on “revenue” bonds instead of “general obligation” bonds. The risk to taxpayers is identical, but the cost to taxpayers is much higher for technical reasons that Guy Hobbs explains here. The loan will be repaid from parks maintenance/construction funding. The other half is money that will empty out City savings accounts.
  • The City has been given $50-million in coupons from the Federal Government that really rich people can use to get out of their income tax bills with (called “New Market Tax Credits”). The City plans to fire-sale these coupons for $10-million and give the proceeds to the team owners.
  • The land in Symphony Park is worth $38-million to $48-million. The City didn’t pay that much for the land years ago, but has borrowed dozens of millions of dollars (still not paid back) to “improve the site.” Through a complicated long-term “ground lease”, this land will essentially be given to the team owners.
  • The City will give back the “property tax increment” – basically about 75% of the property taxes that the facility would pay, something between a half million and a million per year. [This will only be given to the team owners if they actually build the stuff they’ve promised to build.]
  • The team owners will offer soccer clinics for kids that the team owners value at a half million dollars per year (this is a league requirement for all MLS teams).
  • The City Council gets a free luxury box suite in the stadium.

The council is expected to vote this proposal up or down next Wednesday.

37 thoughts on “We Won’t Get Fooled Again”

  1. I am completely in support of your position Councilman Beers. The whole idea does not make sense to me. What has never been fully explained, to at least my satisfaction, is what EXACTLY will be happening in the stadium 348 days of the year when there are no soccer games(since the last I read there would be 17 “home” games in the new stadium). Without a viable business plan as to how to utilize the new stadium all of the time, it does not make sense. A very generic description of other utilizations in the press include “concerts, rodeos, fairs, etc.” for other uses, my response is “WHAT????” All of these types of events are more then WELL accommodated by the numerous other (and completely indoor) stadiums in the Las Vegas valley.

    Here’s an idea… If City Council really wants to make downtown Las Vegas attractive to businesses, tourists & locals, then deal with the HOMELESS problem! I took my family recently to the Neon Museum at night…. and north of the freeway is like the worst part of Harlem in the 1970’s. Just horrible. The homeless issue is like to 8,000 pound elephant in the room. Why does no one seriously address the issue??? Does City Council really think spending $10 million to move the library will help solve the homeless issue? THAT TRANSACTION WILL ONLY MAKE THE HOMELESS ISSUE WORSE. Now, at least, the homeless can hang out in the library during the day. Where exactly do you think those folks will go when the Natural History Museum takes over the building and bans them from admittance?

    But back to the real reason I wrote to you…. MANY of us who live in the City of Las Vegas support you. Please don’t let a misguided stadium gain approval!

    Thanks for listening to my thoughts!
    Randell Mills

  2. Mayor Goodman is in need of a monument like her predecessor Oscar her husband. Public money should not be used in any manner or fashion to fund private business.For a town that always claims not to have money,why would we even consider remotely to spend money this way. When the Findlays sold me a car, I had to finance it. City Hall did not come to my assistance. My most recent car purchase was made from a Findlay competitior with my money and no one else’s.The folks who like and want soccer won’t support it financially. This whole idea should be titled SUCKER STADIUM.Citizens of Las Vegas need to grow up and act like adults. Downtown Summerlin will put the brakes on any real growth downtown or for that matter as a renewal or revival project. A real downtown Las Vegas has never really existed.

  3. Thank you Bob Coffin for calling off the Bromance and seeing the vision of making Las Vegas a world class city with a world class stadium. Thanks so much.

    Vote is in and the vote is a 4-3 yes. I love it! You will see Bob Beers that this will greatly benefit the City of Las Vegas.

    I stood up at the podium and said (while you rudely shook your head at me) that there is no such thing as a 100% privately financed stadium in this day/age of this magnitude. They don’t exist… and once again, I am right. Way to go Mayor Goodman and Councilmembers Barlow, Coffin and the incredibly smart Councilman Ross!

  4. Thanks for writing, Tyce, even though you do not live in the City of Las Vegas (you are in unincorporated Clark County in 89148). The parks by your house will not suffer from diverting maintenance funds to the MLS team owners, but parks in the City of Las Vegas will.

    I think Las Vegas is already a world class city without MLS. In fact, I think it is one of the five most famous cities in the world. And I think the MGM project now underway next to the Monte Carlo is a stadium of this magnitude that is 100% privately financed, and it’s going to have NHL.

    But that’s the definition of politics: many people looking at the same set of facts and drawing different conclusions.

    1. I don’t use or go to any parks (whether in Clark Co, City of LV, City of Henderson or City of NLV. Kinda useless for me. I also do not have any kids, yet I’m sure some of my tax dollars go to education that I don’t get any return on since I don’t and won’t have kids. Yet, I still pay my taxes and move on. Others will do the same whether they like it or not. They pay it (may complain about it), and move on about their lives. I also don’t think putting more money into parks will increase activity in the parks. I just don’t think people use the parks as much people want to believe. In fact, I believe the yearly attendance totals at our hopeful new stadium will draw more people that those that visit parks during the year. I hardly see anyone at any park.

      So since my tax dollars go to things that I do not approve of or voted for, I’m not going to feel bad for public tax dollars to be used for something that benefits me… a soccer stadium.

      If you think an MLS field will fit inside an arena that will host an NHL team, I’d suggest taking a break from bean counting and taking a course in geometry. That is not the same magnitude.

      And it’s nice you know how to use the Clark County Property Information. I use it all the time too. It’s been a great tool for doing business in this town.

      1. Glad to see that Mr. Heldenbrand approves the spending of OTHER PEOPLE’S TAXES, since, as a resident of Clark County (but not the city of Las Vegas) he won’t be paying a dime for this ridiculous taxpayer giveaway. If this project actually gets finished, the average attendance at games will probably exceed 8,000 but never more than 10,000 on average, and eventually the team will fold or move elsewhere. Meanwhile, the taxpayers in Las Vegas (but not Mr. Heldenbrand) will be stuck paying for this white elephant for years and years.

        I don’t know if an NHL or NBA team would draw enough paying customers to survive here, but at least the new Arena that is being built as I write is financed completely by private money. Oh, by the way, that Arena is in Clark County, but NOT in Las Vegas, so Mr. Heldenbrand won’t have to help pay for it, either.

        1. Glad to see that Mr. Adams doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about. The citizens of Las Vegas will not see one dime increase in their taxes either. There is not 1 dime increase in sales or property tax that Mr. Adams thinks he will pay. The tax will be paid by tourists.

          And actually, yes I will contribute to the tax you idiot. Because on some Game Days, I will stay at a hotel downtown, which taxes will pay for the stadium. So nice way for you to look stupid here huh Mr Adams??? You done now, or should I continue? Because I have a lot more to share.

          1. Bring it on. Taxpayers are to give away land that is worth in the neighborhood of $35 to $40 million dollars. I suppose that is paid for by room taxes, too. This city cannot survive by continuing to increase the room tax for tourists. Oh, does the room tax for those strip casinos that are in Clark County but not in the city of Las Vegas help to pay off the Soccer stadium debt, or only room tax for hotels within the City limits?

          2. Of course they are going to give away the land for free. The City decided they did not want to own the stadium, yet they had the opportunity too. By not owning the stadium, the risk is significantly reduced for the City. It is absolutely standard practice for a jurisdiction to give away land for free when they choose not to own the stadium. Las Vegas should be no different. If the City and the residents want to benefit from having a professional sports team, then both should be responsible for investing a little. No one should get anything for free… that would be called welfare.

            The Findlay/Cordish group are putting up around 300 million of their own money to build and develop the land. That’s a bigger % than other cities with MLS stadiums have put forward in a stadium deal. Las Vegas is lucky to get such a good deal.

            The tax is for City hotels only… which is right where I’ll be staying on game nights. There are 2 NEW breweries downtown, no reason to drive after the game. Downtown hotels will be great after games. We will be lucky. The City will thrive.

          3. The City will get a stadium, a soccer team, over $50 million in long-term debt, while the County will get a first-class Arena at NO cost to taxpayers, that can hold TWO professional sports franchises (hockey & basketball). In addition, it can be used for indoor tennis, box lacrosse, concerts, etc. The multimillionaires who are putting their money into this can apparently afford it, whilst the “poor” multimillionaires who are attempting to build this soccer stadium are just not quite wealthy enough to leave taxpayers out of it. (Actually, they are wealthy enough, but what the heck, if the City Council is stupid enough, why spend their own money?)

            Las Vegas has the Smith Center ( a world-class facility) and the Lou Ruvo Center (also a world-class facility) in “Symphony Park.” It should be looking into enticing more of the same, not giving away the store to multimillionaires for their playground.

          4. You are clearly overstating the wealth of the Findlays. Cordish doesn’t even want to be an owner of the team as that is not their business plan. They want to develop, get their piece of the pie and be the end of that. They would need another investor to help out with that, and that doesn’t appear to be happening. And you simply cannot compare an Arena to a stadium, that is a huge mistake. The magnitude/size of the 2 are un-comparable. I have studied many NFL stadium plans, MLS stadium plans for many years. The same problems in each city/market have some unique challenges, but the constant theme is that tax payer dollars are ALWAYS needed in deal like this. Las Vegas will be no different. Las Vegas will not set a precedent of not using tax payer dollars. That is sooooo unrealistic. People need to start understand this.

          5. If a stadium must be built, then it shold be built for UNLV, not for a bunch of multimillionaires. If Cordish/Finley can’t afford to pay for it, then they should go away already. A stadium for UNLV could also be used for a soccer team. Admittedly, the football team at UNLV couldn’t beat Bishop Gorman, but at least they got Gorman’s coach. Maybe new facilities would help in recruiting.

            Major League Soccer schedules a whole lot of games in the summer. In case Cordish/Finley didn’t notice, it gets kinda HOT in Las Vegas in the summertime. How many fans want to sit in the stands in 100+ weather, and how many players will drop from heat stroke on the field, which is likely to be even hotter than the stands?

            If UNLV were to get support from the Casino industry and other wealthy Nevadans, a top-notch COVERED stadium could be built that would accomodate a soccer team, UNLV football, concerts, etc.
            Such a stadium wouldn’t be a give-away to multimillionaires who apparently are not wealthy enough to build their own stadium.

            Then Symphony Park can be utilized for more world-class places like the Smith Center and the Lou Ruvo Center. More places like that would do a lot more to make Las Vegas a “world-class” city than a soccer stadium.

          6. Las Vegas is far from a world class city. It has no art museum. It features a third rate university. Our symphony is a joke, for a market of this size and nothing more than a society gig for those who know little about music and want to learn even less. Were it not for gambling, this town would not exist.Perhaps someone ought to tackle our water shortage. We have the highest number on a percentage basis of illegals in our schools.Wake up Las Vegas and grow up.

          7. I totally agree. My reference was to former Mayor Oscar Goodman and current mayor Carolyn Goodman trying to make Las Vegas a “world class city” (their words) by obtaining a professional sports team. It will take a lot more than a professional sports team to make this “a world class city” but places like the Smith Center and the Lou Ruvo Center are a start.

            UNLV doesn’t even have a medical school – this in a state and a city that is short on medical professionals. As you pointed out, there are no top-notch museums (the Mob Museum and Neon Boneyard certainly don’t qualify as “top-notch”). And the public school system in Clark County (not to mention the whole state) is famous for trying to be the worst in the Country – often succeeding.

            Las Vegas is far from “world class” and a soccer team won’t change that at all. But I’d rather see the outrageously high “room tax” money go toward a UNLV stadium which could still be used by a professional team, or toward a UNLV medical school, which would benefit the residents of this third-class city a lot more than a stupid stadium.,

          8. Once again, using taxpayer dollars is absolutely appropriate. You’ll just have to deal with it.

            You’ve once again haven’t followed along Mr. Adams, the stadium (if we get our team) will be built with an environmental cooling system for the hot summer nights. This will control temperatures just nicely. And you should’ve noticed that Dallas and Houston have open air stadiums and they are extremely hot and humid in the summer typically with a heat index above 100, and yet people still come to the game and the players suffer no ill effect. So your argument there is VERY lame and unwarranted.

            If you want to complain about the public schools, then start venting your anger towards the education officials who have recklessly spent taxpayer dollars that have not done anything to increase students abilities and skills. I don’t (and won’t) have kids, yet some of my tax dollars go to fund education when I don’t even have kids. I don’t think that’s fair so I won’t feel one damn bit upset that someone doesn’t want taxpayer dollars going to a stadium that will benefit ME. They’ll have to deal with that.

          9. Meanwhile, I will be spending my money on an NHL team, should one come to Las Vegas in the privately funded stadium, and I won’t spend a dime on the monument to Findlay/Cordish. Unfortunately, the City Council has sold out to the multimillionaires, so maybe they can attend the outdoor soccer games in July and enjoy the cooling system.

          10. Ron, that’s not even a competent statement and you are very wrong. No one on the council caved in. Thankfully, we have 3 council members and a mayor who see outside the box, and a better Las Vegas. Las Vegas can be a world class city.

  5. Yes it is possible for Vegas to become a world class city. I am seventy so it won’t be in my lifetime.Until we solve our water problem and get a handle on our educational system there is no way for a world class to exist here. Culture counts and is part of the dynamic that defines a world class city. Soccer or any other sport for that matter, does not define in any way what it means to be a world class city.

    1. Ron, I respect you as an elder in the community, and respect your opinion as well. I know that you don’t see this on a daily basis, but you’d be surprised how stadiums draw people even on days when there is no game. Everyone wants to go to the fanshop at the stadium and buy a shirt/jersey/souvenir. This is the case even in American cities with MLS teams. It’s things like this that absolutely contribute to making a city a World Class City. I don’t know how else to tell you the draw from visitors that stadiums get. The Las Vegas stadium will be no different.

      As far as the water supply, well, we live in a desert. There are water problems in every desert. It’s just the way it is. The educational system has been bad for years, but as we’ve seen, pumping more money into it has not solved the problem. The problem has always lied with the people running the school districts ineffectively, and sometimes with reckless regard to money.

      1. It’s all about how you spend taxpayer money. I could care less about the Sucker Stadium. Let the Findlays pay for this, NOT taxpayer dollars. Just that simple

          1. I most certainly am a taxpayer. It’s not a question about who the taxpayers are but simply the use of public funds.

          2. Do you not understand what re-develop funds are supposed to do? They are used to clean up areas of blight. That’s part of what taxpayers dollars do. This stadium will absolutely take care of the blight in Symphony Park.

          3. The term re development in this instance is an oxy-moron. As there was nothing there before. A soccer stadium would be appropriate someplace near the beltway, and funded with private money.A “world”
            class art museum near the concert hall would be an appropriate way of enhancing the area and develop it further. No doubt that the Findlays would support that , as they are so civic minded.

    2. And I don’t won’t to hear anymore that the City Council is corrupt… or greedy… or took bribes. Even Mr Beers knows that’s not the case. Saying any of the above is just a childish way of saying, “It’s not fair what’s happening”. Get over it. The City Council has considered all of the terms, and deemed it to be good by a 4-3 vote. We had 4 members who saw the importance of this, and 3 of them that don’t. This was a prioritization decision for the Council, and they made their decision.

  6. I don’t know a lot ….but I do know that I do not like the idea of a soccer stadium. If we are “giving” away the land why not build the medical school on it. Seems like a good location for a worthwhile project and would not disturb or distract from the beautiful Smith Center.

    1. Here’s a deal for the city. Downtown is a bust. Anyone who doesn’t know this is an uninformed mope. Las Vegas is run by immature child like creatures. If they really want to bring business downtown, they should reach out to White Castle and open the biggest White Castle in the country right down town . The traffic they will get on the strip will be enormous. Building downtown would create a lot of activity and would spur on growth. The Sucker Stadium just won’t cut it. My advice to car buyers is to boycott Findlay.The city should not be allowed to spend our money in any fashion to fund private business. This has been going on too long.

  7. Tyce – you wrote “Do you not understand what re-develop funds are supposed to do? They are used to clean up areas of blight. That’s part of what taxpayers dollars do.” You are incorrect.

    It is illegal for Nevada cities to put their taxpayer dollars into redevelopment costs, only “property tax increment dollars.” The City of Las Vegas has been “upside down” and illegally supplementing the tax increment with general fund for about five years, because it took out second and third mortgages at the peak of the property market (in 2008). The increment plunged but the debt service remained high. Supplementing development funds with general fund is illegal for Nevada cities; doing so with money earmarked for parks is immoral.

    1. A difference of opinion. I heard what you said about how NV adopted the CA legislation regarding re-development funds. The state of CA ILLEGALLY absconded re-development funds, took them away and put in into the general fund simply because the state was broke due to their own mistakes.

      You and will always disagree on re-development funds, and their appropriate usage/source.

    2. But I do thank you for not endorsing others opinions that the City Council members took a bribe to vote yes on the stadium. Perhaps we do agree on something.

      1. Bribes can take many forms and can be payoffs down the line. Preferential treatment while buying a car is only one of many possible examples

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