The Nevada Assembly was just about to vote on the bill for the proposed Las Vegas Oakland Raiders NFL Stadium, and including a $750 million subsidy ostensibly for billionaire Sheldon Adelson, when it got news of a new price tag, and that was unearthed by a reporter with a publication Adelson owns.
As this post is being written, members of the Nevada Assembly are on their way to their hotels, after their half of the Special Session that was called to evaluate and vote on the proposed legislation crafted by the staff and members of Governor Brian Sandoval’s Southern Nevada Tourism and Infrastructure Committee (SNTIC), was adjourned.
A little known report released by the Nevada Department of Transportation, or N-DOT, estimates that needed improvements to freeways and roads around the sites for a proposed Las Vegas Oakland Raiders NFL Stadium will total $900 million.
The report, finished and printed by N-DOT on October 4th, was just shown to members of the Nevada Assembly today, and toward the late hours of the special session. When the news hit the Las Vegas Review Journal, and then social media, content on the Twitter hashtag under #nvleg went negative toward the stadium, and faster than you could say Super Bowl Las Vegas or Michaan’s Auctions Annex.
Prior to the report, media observers in Carson City, Nevada noted that stadium legislation opponents were just six votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for the legislation to pass. Had that happened, the Nevada Assembly would have joined the Nevada Senate in approving a bill that included a $750 million public subsidy to help billionaire Sheldon Adelson pay for the construction of a near $2 billion stadium for the Raiders to move from Oakland to Las Vegas.
Then, and thanks ironically to a reporter with the Las Vegas Review Journal – the same news organization owned by the same billionaire Sheldon Adelson – a news report popped up that focused on the N-DOT study and the giant additional cost. And with that, the idea that the legislation was worth supporting, even with the stadiums myriad of planning problems, went out the window.
On social media, the unraveling of support spread like a rash – in order to stop the bleeding, the Las Vegas Review Journal took down the report (which was immediately noted on Twitter) and then posted it with adjusted information. But the damage was done.
Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman asked questions about traffic improvements costs at Thursday’s Nevada Regional Transportation Committee meeting, and were told that no information was available. That was said even though the N-DOT report had been released on October 4th – something clearly obvious when the document was presented within the Las Vegas Review post because the date was clearly printed on it.
In an attempt to quell the rising anger of many Nevada Assemblymembers, the N-DOT director and the N-DOT staffer who wrote the report were called to the special session. What began was a grilling by politicians that lasted until after 1 in the morning.
The most notable set of questions came from Reno Senator Amber Joiner (District Four) who said “To find out it’s $900M is staggering. But that’s not worst thing. We’re going to have to reprioritize all of our projects.”
That observation was taken up by the N-DOT director Rudy Malfabon and his answers gave no one any comfort, especially in Las Vegas. Mr. Malfabon admitted that if road projects are delayed in lieu of moving up those for the Las Vegas NFL stadium project, Southern Nevada projects would be moved up, not northern ones.
Considering that Governor Sandoval created the SOUTHERN Nevada Tourism and Infrastructure Committee, that news had to be the cause of a massive bellyache for the state’s leader. Basically, the N-DOT Director admitted that a whole set of road infrastructure improvements in Southern Nevada would go unaddressed if the stadium were approved and then moved to creation by NFL Owners.
Add to that, the news is the noted improvements are without specific, identified funding sources. The N-DOT Director never named the exact federal funding sources to be used, so the Las Vegas Review Journal originally reported the while $900 million of road improvements as ‘unfunded’.
If those costs as added to the currently estimated stadium price tag of $2 billion, the cost zooms to $3 billion. At present, there’s no language in the proposed legislation to completely protect the State of Nevada from paying for any additional costs. The way the bill is written, the stadium authority would be able to create new taxes and, using Clark County’s bonding capacity, then float a new bond for the stadium.
It’s provisions like that one, which had the small number of five of Nevada Senators who voted against the bill in on Wednesday, up in arms (16 voted for it.)
Of course, that body was never told about the N-DOT report.
Now, we go into a new day for the special session, starting at 9 am PST.