Ready, Set, Tax! Hikes OK’d for New Las Vegas NFL Stadium

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By William H. Carlile

Nov. 17 — Clark County has formalized approval of two hotel tax increases that would fuel Las Vegas’s bid to lure the NFL’s Oakland Raiders to town.

The two 6-1 votes by county commissioners Nov. 15 clear the way for work to begin on a 65,000-seat, NFL-ready football stadium. A timetable for construction hasn’t been announced.

Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) in October signed into law a package calling for construction of a $1.9 billion stadium and convention center. The two projects are to be financed through a 0.88 percentage-point hotel room tax increase to fund the stadium, and a half-percentage point increase for improvements to the center.

The new hotel room taxes, which take effect Jan. 1, will add $1.35 for every $100 on a room rate.

The rise in the hotel room tax rate is expected to generate $750 million in bonds for the stadium.

‘Rushed Through.’

Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani (D) cast the dissenting vote against the tax hikes. She criticized the stadium project during the Nov. 15 meeting, voicing concerns that the county’s other tax dollars would be on the hook if room tax revenue from the project is insufficient to pay off the 33-year bonds.

“So much of this action was premature and rushed through,” Giunchigliani said after the meeting. “It’s bad public policy to take public tax dollars—especially the largest subsidy in the United States—and claim it’s going to benefit economic development.”

All Eyes on Owners

Additional funding is to come from the Raiders organization ($500 million) and from the family of Sheldon Adelson, Las Vegas Sands Corp. chairman and chief executive officer ($650 million).

It remains unclear whether 24 of 32 National Football League team owners will determine that Las Vegas is worthy of becoming home to an NFL team. They convene early next year.

Team owner Mark Davis reaffirmed to ESPN on Oct. 15 that he plans to play the next two seasons at the Oakland Coliseum, even if the team gets the green light from the NFL to move to Las Vegas.

To contact the reporter on this story: William H. Carlile in Phoenix at wcarlile@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ryan C. Tuck at rtuck@bna.com

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