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The Stadium Scam Goes Vegas

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A perfect act for the Trump era.

Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani has a long list of things she would spend $750 million in public money on, if it was up to her. A light rail system, so Las Vegas can compete with cities with better public transportation. Firefighters, because her county has not hired a new one in years. And teachers, as public schools in Nevada perennially rank among the worst in the nation.

Nowhere on Giunchigliani’s $750 million public wish list would you find “help a wealthy NFL team owner and a mega-rich casino magnate build a $1.9 billion football stadium.” But that is exactly what Nevada’s largest county is poised to do, as the likelihood of the Raiders leaving Oakland for Las Vegas inched closer to reality this month.

Last week, Raiders owner Mark Davis made official his plan to move his team to Las Vegas by filing paperwork with the NFL; his fellow team owners could vote on the request in March. Davis decided to make the move, he has said, when Nevada lawmakers agreed late last year to provide a substantial public subsidy to help the Raiders build a new stadium. In October, Nevada’s legislature approved a plan for Clark County to provide $750 million for the stadium over the next 30 years through bonds backed by a new hotel tax.

I mean, this makes sense, right? The people behind this in Vegas totally need the money!

Giunchigliani, a former state legislator, is still dismayed by the decision, which will defray how much Davis (worth an estimated $500 million) and his likely business partner Sheldon Adelson (worth an estimated $31 billion) will have to spend to bring their gleaming vision of a domed stadium in Las Vegas into reality. Under the proposed plan, the Raiders will contribute $500 million, and Adelson will contribute $650 million.

Better subsidize the playground of a billionaire and one of the most grotesque living Americans! If that $31 billion dollar fortune briefly declined past $30.5 billion, he might have to cut back on his support of Emperor Tangerine. And I’m sure the people of Vegas will come out for the Raiders in the kind of droves that requires not 1 but 2 great teams in Los Angeles.

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  • Well, to be fair, they will play 8 home games a year which will provide 36 hours of paid work to beer hawkers, ushers, and parking lot attendants. So it’s worth it. Also, Las Vegas has no other tourist attractions.

    • CrunchyFrog

      In the case of Vegas it probably makes it worse. On the occasions when they do get a lot of people flying in for a big football event like the stupid bowl the new population will crowd out the usual spenders at the big tourist spots. Vegas is pretty full already on weekends during the winters.

      On top of that, for all of Vegas’ issues with schools, etc, the metro area has tremendous parks, even in the poorer areas, because outdoor recreation is what a lot of people come to Vegas for. Kiss that goodbye after they make all of the cuts needed to build JerryWorldWest.

    • rewenzo

      Finally, there will be something for tourists to do in Las Vegas on the weekends.

    • JMP

      When it’s not being used for football games, they can use that stadium for concerts, which Vegas currently sorely lacks.

    • Breadbaker

      So where do the people who currently go to Vegas on Super Bowl weekend go when the Super Bowl is in Vegas?

  • Nobdy

    The interesting thing about the stadium scam is that it has been throughly debunked (we know definitvely that sports teams never add the kind of economic boost their supporters claim they will) but it continues unabated. In many ways it is like the Trump University victims who still voted for him. Some people walk right into a scam with eyes open, like sheep excited about being fleeced so they can enjoy the cool air on their freshly shorn skin.

    I know that some politicians think they can get votes from sports fans happy to have a new team in town, and of course there are always other stakeholders happy to get public money (construction companies who want to bid on the project or whatever) but you could also spend the money to build something useful and get votes that way so I don’t think that it is pure electoral self interest.

    Maybe it is the soft bribery of getting invited to games and palling around with celebrity athletes if you grease the skids to give their bosses public money.

    • Crusty

      A sports stadium could literally shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and still get taxpayer funding.

      • Domino

        Sorry I missed this earlier. Literally laughed out loud.

    • McAllen

      I think a lot of politicians really don’t care about the ecomomics. They just think having a professional football team in their city is neat, and having a professional football team with a shiny new stadium is neater.

      • Phil Perspective

        Don’t forget those politicians then get tickets to said team and use it as a fundraising/hobnobbing tool.

        • Dilan Esper

          Also the media gets free tickets and state of the art facilities. So they are always on board.

      • rea

        Everything is awesome, everything is cool when you’re part of a team (Go Sports Team!)

      • jamesepowell

        Quite a few voters also don’t care about economics or that their precious tax dollars are poured into the pockets of the already mega-rich. I mean, it’s not like anybody is wasting the money buy food or health care for non-whites, right?

        I lived through the stupidity festival in Cleveland when the Browns moved to Baltimore. The great majority of people – seemed like everybody – behaved as if their lives could not go on without an NFL team. The whole atmosphere was as if a child had been kidnapped.

        It’s sick, it’s stupid, but it is also very popular.

    • wengler

      Giant stadiums with top tier professional sports teams make local politicians feel important in a way that schools don’t. Every bumfuck town has a school, they say, I helped turn this town into a major league city!

      These local and state politicians are playing with house money anyways. Tell them that they’d have to put down their house as collateral and they’d start stalling.

      • Nobdy

        Do L.A. and Las Vegas politicians really feel like this? That’d be weird. Those are already pretty important cities. Thus is not Green Bay or Buffalo.

        • Jay B

          I never got the sense that the LA city government cared in any way about the NFL — the two shitty teams here were mostly network/owner driven. LA had the Lakers/Clips/Dodgers/USC/UCLA/Kings sports nexus anyway — crappy NFL teams are superfluous. Come to think of it, neither Inglewood nor Carson are actually part of LA and have their own city governments, so that feels to be proof about how LA city felt about it.

          Vegas, though, periodically tries to build civic pride that goes beyond casinos, so are more enthusiastic of supporting things that make it more of a “legit” city. Like the way the Corleones were always trying to be legit in five years.

          • Davis

            Angelenos did not seem to care when they had no team; in fact they took oride in not caring. One of them said, “If Jacksonville has a team, we don’t want one!”

          • Dilan Esper

            Actually our politicians tried over and over to subsidize sports teams. The LA taxpaying public revolted.

            • jamesepowell

              True. Remember the Farmers Insurance thing that was going to go by Staples? They even passed a state law to make the environmental stuff easier to walk over. And there have been other efforts, but as soon as there was any talk of public money, it died.

              Even now, I sense no enthusiasm for either team moving to LA.

              • Dilan Esper

                Staples itself was going to be publicly funded. One politician, Joel Wachs, rallied the public against it.

        • Aaron Morrow

          Inglewood got a better deal than most. Las Vegas is more explicitly a conservative kickback to Adelson (EDIT: and what Jay B said).

        • Francis

          Without a shred of actual evidence, my suspicion is that the governance structure of the LA basin has a lot to do with it. The unincorporated county area is larger than Rhode Island, but that’s all high desert north of metropolitan areas.

          Within the county, there are 88 (!) incorporated cities of enormously different size, demographics and wealth. The owners have tried playing one city off the other, and Al Davis actually had some success in doing so. But in recent years the various cities seem to have gotten together and collectively decided that their own taxpayers should not be bearing the burden of a project whose benefits accrue to a much larger area.

          ETA: The City of LA is far and away the largest, but the City is largely built out. Yes, one plan within the City involved tearing down a big chunk of the Convention Center, but the plans that had the most transaction all involved putting the stadium in one of the smaller cities.

    • NewishLawyer

      I think McAllen is right and a lot of politicians get wowed by the idea of having a major stadium because it makes them feel like a real city as opposed to something else.

      The other thing is that a lot of voters seem to find using tax payer money to fund stadiums as less objectionable than money on transit, schools, parks, and libraries.

      I’m not a sports guy but lots of people are even on LGM where we have football threads every week. Yet even LGMers might be the minority among fans.

    • Funkhauser

      Adelson has a war chest and owns the biggest newspaper in town (the LV Review-Journal). I think the potential threat of constant negative press + all funding for your opponent + funding for your re-election is quite a substantial stick-carrot combination.

      • Murc

        I have a friend who has written for the Review-Journal, and in fact has an award from them on his wall that he both is now ashamed to look at but can’t bear to take down.

        He would like to encourage everyone to refer to the LVRJ not as a newspaper, but as a “newspaper.”

        • Philip

          I had a friend on the CCM campaign, and yeah. This about sums up everything I heard about what the Review-“Journal”

    • Domino

      What is really shocking to me is the cost – nearly $2 billion dollars? WHY??

      The Raiders aren’t the Cowboys – they can’t build the biggest stadium and get sellout after sellout. How on earth do you defend that decision?

      Does the NFL just devolve into a cartel that demands new stadiums for it’s teams every 20 years? The Falcons are getting a new one after 25 years. Reliant Stadium in Houston is a decade old – in 10 years will they demand a new one?

      I love going to Arrowhead once a year – will the Chiefs demand a brand new stadium several years from now?

      It’s just disgusting.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        $2 billion dollars for eight home games per year + postseason. It just completely blows my mind. They’ll try and pretend that the stadium will host other events, but the problem of course is that Las Vegas has just a little bit of concert/convention/pavilion space already.

        My god it’s such a waste of resources that it is almost a work of art.

      • Nobdy

        The NFL has already obviously devolved into just such a cartel. Just ask the citizens of Saint Louis who still owe money on the abandoned Rams stadium!

        • jamesepowell

          Future home of the Jaguars?

      • Murc

        Does the NFL just devolve into a cartel that demands new stadiums for it’s teams every 20 years?

        It already has done.

        Reliant Stadium in Houston is a decade old – in 10 years will they demand a new one?

        They absolutely will, or they’ll threaten to pull an Oilers.

        I love going to Arrowhead once a year – will the Chiefs demand a brand new stadium several years from now?

        Yes.

        My prediction, by the way, is this: sometime between now and 2050, an NFL franchise will fold with the enthusiastic blessing of the owners. Not because it is unprofitable. Not because it has an insufficient fanbase. But because they’ll be unable to hold up their home city for a new toy, no other city will agree to be held up either, and the owner will be such a vindictive asshole he will decide “this city gets no football. None at all.” And his vindictive asshole owners friends will agree, pour encourager les autres.

        • Rob in CT

          MLB toyed with this a number of years ago (~10). I think the franchise supposedly on the chopping block was the Twins.

          • rea

            Twins and As

            • efgoldman

              Twins and As

              Tampa, too, before they got decent.

        • mikeSchilling

          This was a big part of Bud Selig’s contraction plan.

    • postmodulator

      I’m actually okay with some public support for stadia, essentially for the same reason I’m okay with public support of museums and libraries. Sports teams are good for cities. They bring people together. I only really object to the gross excess.

      • Nobdy

        Museums and libraries aren’t intended to “bring people together” they are educational and cultural resources and, more importantly, they don’t make private parties rich.

        If a municipality wanted to own and operate a sports team with the public reaping the rewards I would be fine with that, but public money should not be spent to benefit already hugely wealthy private interests, even moreso when there is no real public benefit (as opposed to, say, paying for improved transportation to a location where someone wants to build a factory, where the jobs and taxes outweigh the cost of the project.)

        • postmodulator

          The public benefits of a sports team are mostly intangible, but they are still real.

          The Columbus Public Library very definitely sees its mission as bringing people together, and does quite well at it.

          • Dilan Esper

            The public benefits of a football team are zero.

            LA didn’t stop being paradise on earth because we didn’t have an NFL team. If anything it was better, because we got the best games on TV which we never did before.

            • mikeSchilling

              LA didn’t stop being paradise on earth because we didn’t have an NFL team.

              No, that was the smog, the traffic, and the population.

              • Dilan Esper

                Traffic is terrible and getting worse and worse (although there are more transportation options now than there used to be).

                But smog? It’s way, way down. When I was a kid we had a bunch of smog alerts every year, where the kids weren’t even allowed to go out of the school buildings at recess. And I couldn’t see the buildings of downtown LA from Glendale, a few miles away.

                Now, the smog is basically cleared. You can almost always see downtown and the Hollywood sign from most of the basin. California was ahead of the nation in emissions controls and it really made a big difference.

                • postmodulator

                  You can see this in old clips on Youtube, too. Even things shot in 1950 have a noticeable haze.

                  Traffic’s worse in the whole fucking country, as long as we’re being fair, but LA’s is still something else.

                • Philip

                  +1. I went to college a bit east of Pasadena. Professors who’d been there a long time said you used to not even be able to see the mountains most of the time. They were hazy sometimes, but I don’t remember a single non-stormy day where you couldn’t see them at all, and mostly they were pretty clear.

                • Domino

                  Technically, Honolulu is listed as having the worst traffic in the country.

                • Bruce B.

                  This time I get to agree with Dilan without any reservations.

                  I’m 51. I had to leave the LA area because of an autoimmune disorder and its complications as a teenager. Air pollution and multiple allergies to common Mediterranean-climate plants were two huge factors. Now the air is so improved that if there were a cure for the allergies, I’d think very seriously about moving back, like, tomorrow.

                  Philip: Heck, I lived just off Allen Ave, a couple blocks down from Marshall Secondary School, a mile up from the Huntington, and not being able to see the mountains from there was pretty common through much of the year.

                • Tehanu

                  In the 1960’s, I remember walking amidst literal swirls of smog along Westwood Blvd. where it enters the UCLA campus, and on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood you could not see the hills only 4 blocks away. The last time I remember it being like that was a few miserably hot summer days around 1980 or so. What smog there is, any more, tends to get blown out east to San Berdoo and Riverside because of the geography of the San Gabriel Valley. The traffic, OTOH, is worse than ever, but I figure once Il Douche & Friends get the price of gas up to $8 a gallon, we’ll all be in much better physical shape walking 17 miles to work every day.

                • Breadbaker

                  You assume that air pollution doesn’t become a sacrament in this Congress, with full preemption of inconsistent or stronger state laws on pollution. How good is that assumption?

            • postmodulator

              Didn’t know you were in LA.

      • Domino

        Yeah, I can agree with this. I’m okay with some money, and honestly would have to judge it on a case by case basis.

        Like, cap the amount around ~10%

        • Murc

          Given the staggering price tags of modern stadiums, even 10% is probably too much.

          • postmodulator

            Yeah, I don’t know exactly where the cutoff would be. Basically if I can read a story about a stadium deal without tasting stomach acid I’ll figure they got it right.

      • Dilan Esper

        Sorry, no sale. Lots of people don’t give a shit about sports. And many of them are already forced to subsidize them in their local cable bills.

    • UserGoogol

      Let the record show that the reason why the New England Patriots play in middle-of-nowhere Foxborough is that Boston (and when the upgrade to Gilette Stadium was being planned, Providence and Hartford) rejected their stadium plans. So hooray New England.

      Clearly proof that progressives should root for the Patriots.

      • Davis X. Machina

        Not always the case. Schaefer/Sullivan Stadium was built in Foxboro because the Patriots couldn’t afford anything better.

        Pats were playing at Fenway, then Harvard Stadium, then BC’s Alumni Stadium…

        • N__B

          …then the Little Sisters of Charity Stadium, then Foxborough.

          • Davis X. Machina

            Still built w/o any town or state money. Even if the parking lots looked like Ypres, and the traffic jams lasted longer than the games.

            I don’t have any love for Kiam, or Kraft, but the original Pats community, owners, and fans, were essentially Green Bay w/o Lombardi…

            This is before the Kiams and Krafts and Ortweins shopped the team around.

            • efgoldman

              but the original Pats community, owners, and fans, were essentially Green Bay w/o Lombardi…

              What? The Sullivans? They had all the business sense of Cheetoh Mussolini without the personality and chutzpah.

              • Davis X. Machina

                They weren’t any good off their beat — Victory Tour — but Metropolitan Oil always delivered the #2 heating on time.

        • efgoldman

          Pats were playing at Fenway, then Harvard Stadium, then BC’s Alumni Stadium…

          Their first exhibition was at BU’s Nickerson Field (nee Braves Field). I believe they played some regular-season games there, too, but it was a LONG time ago.

        • “Schaefer…is the…one beer to have…when you’re having more than one…!”

    • Victor Matheson

      I am one of the main guys who has been doing the debunking for the past decade. There have been some nice wins. The new LA stadium is essentially all private money after LA said they would not pony up, and both Oakland and San Diego have rejected new stadiums. On top of that, Levi’s stadium in Santa Clara is about 90% private funding. So much for “tax and spend” liberals in California.

      This Vegas deal is particularly aggravating, however. The theft of taxpayer money by a supposedly small government Adelson and a crazy plan to finance the stadium through visits by away fans is simply crazy.

      • keta

        Hi Victor and thanks for chiming in. Always great to hear from a real expert.

        You’re quoted here as saying:

        When cities cite studies (often produced by parties with an interest in building the stadium) touting the impact of such projects, there is a simple rule for determining the actual return on investment, Matheson said: “Take whatever number the sports promoter says, take it and move the decimal one place to the left. Divide it by ten, and that’s a pretty good estimate of the actual economic impact.”

        Is the ROI really that much smaller that promoters tout? (I’m not questioning your expertise, I’m just flabbergasted that the true number is so, so much smaller than they try and sell. And aren’t some promoters more realistic, or do they all use the same bullshit metrics to get to their bogus number?)

        I also have another question, if you don’t mind. Has there ever been a publicly-funded stadium that has made economic sense to the city that paid for it? Ever? And if not, what sort of ratio of public-private investment is in the ballpark (heh) of economic feasibility for the city?

        • Victor Matheson

          The 10:1 is a good rule of thumb. For Super Bowl numbers, the typical figure is $500-700 million. Economists like me who actually look back get $30-$130 million. For the 2002 Winter Olympics, the jobs figure was 35,000 expected jobs. I found about 7,000 new jobs.

          The biggest issue is that the economic impact studies typical show gross impact, that is total amount of revenue from a team or event, while the real measure you want is net revenue, the amount of new revenue you get when a team or event comes to town. Suppose a Vegas visitor goes to the Raiders instead of the Circ du Soleil. The boosters would say $100 spent on Raiders tickets is the impact of the team. An honest economist would say $100 spent on football is countered by $100 less spent on acrobats.

          As for good deals. First of all I don’t think any economist has major issues with small amounts of spending on infrastructure. Gillette Stadium included $25 million of public money to improve car access to the new stadium. That’s pretty much what government should be doing. So, some public spending is probably ok. As for other stadiums, urban planners and economists tend to like Coors Field (Denver) and PetCo (San Diego) as they have successfully anchored revitalized entertainment districts in LoDo and the Gaslamp, although again you might just be relocating economic activity from other parts of the city into central Denver and SD. I also worked on an impact study for the Staples Center which was roughly 1/3 public. We found the Staples Center coincided with an increase in economic activity in LA. But it should be noted that the Staples Center hosts at least 4 major league teams and is used 250 days a year, a far cry from at most 25 venue dates at the proposed Vegas stadium.

          • keta

            All very interesting. Thanks for this.

    • Shantanu Saha

      What the NFL and the other major sports know is that there is always another mark for their grift over in the next valley. Most local politicians are either former jocks who get off on bringing a sports team into their city, or former nerds who want to curry favor with the jocks.

  • keta

    From the link:

    Nevada tourism officials are predicting the Raiders will sell about 43,000 tickets per game to Las Vegas area residents, which Noll thinks is a sound estimate, as Las Vegas will be one of the smaller NFL markets. The Raiders will sell out the 65,000-seat stadium, according to tourism estimates, by bringing roughly 22,000 tourists per game. Each of those tourists will stay an average of 3.2 nights, spending about $1,200 outside of the stadium while in town.
    “There has never been a sports stadium in history that has had that type of economic impact,” said Noll, who has studied the economic impacts of stadiums for decades. “In order for those financial projections to work, this has to be the most successful football stadium ever built.”

    What a gloomy Gus.

    The tourism forecasts present a central paradox, Nagourney noted: If the Raiders are wildly popular and sell out the stadium with local fans, there won’t be any seats open for the 22,000 out-of-towners expected every week.
    “It’s the only park in America where success locally will destroy the plan,” Nagourney said. “It’s garbage.”

    Just win, baby!

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Why in the hell would tourists go to a football game? In a city that has thousands of attractions competing for their attention? Why would they ever think that a football team, an attraction that is inherently local-facing compared to damn near everything else Las Vegas has to offer, would fill hotel rooms?

      Yeah…this is why it’s a grift. There is no way that all these policymakers believe this horseshit.

      • JKTH

        Let alone A THIRD of the seats being filled by tourists. If this kind of thing happened, you’d think LA and Miami teams would have huge fanbases.

      • postmodulator

        Why in the hell would tourists go to a football game?

        I don’t know if it’s totally out of the question. Cleveland welcomed a lot of visitors from Chicago last fall.

        The bastards.

        • jamesepowell

          That was an anomaly.

          It was their first World Series appearance in a century, tickets for the Cubs’ home games were insane, plus it’s a short flight or drive.

      • Domino

        I can see that working – for like 2 home games a year: if they have one after Thanksgiving, and another around the Christmas/New Years holidays. Those 2 times I could see a bunch of people talking themselves into going to Vegas for a game. But not the remaining 6…

      • runsinbackground

        Yeah…this is why it’s a grift. There is no way that all these policymakers believe this horseshit.

        Well OK, that explains why the city and county governments are going along with it; Adelson bought them. And of course Adelson hardly needs an explanation; all sorts of ways to make money off a real estate deal that size. But why does Mark Davis want to do this? Doesn’t he see that towns like Las Vegas are where formerly national-grade sports teams go to die? Is Vegas even that big of a media market?

      • ASV

        I don’t think 22K is necessarily out of the question in the abstract, but it is out of the question if ticket prices are going to be comparable to other NFL venues. Also too, good luck getting free agents to sign with a team that deliberately has no fans of its own.

        • Domino

          Eh, most players care most about:

          1. Salary

          2. How the organization is run

          Fans and atmosphere can factor in, but I’m not aware of any notable player deciding based on that.

      • Dilan Esper

        I was a Raider season ticket holder. I know a number of others from when the team was in LA. A whole bunch of us are talking about getting tickets when they come to Vegas.

        Make of that what you will.

        • Victor Matheson

          I think there is no doubt that there is an element of truth to the idea that some fans will travel to games, and more than average because it is Vegas.

          The question is whether they can get 22K on a regular basis. I can easily see 70K current Raiders ticket holders doing this once or twice over the next few years, but for the stadium funding to work you need to keep it up. 22K for a game is no problem, but the deal requires 5,280,000 travelers over the next 30 years to work.

      • mikeSchilling

        Back when the 49ers were good and the stadium was sold out for years ahead, I knew people who would travel to Arizona or LA to see them So, if the Yorks sell the team back to Eddie, within a few years the Raiders could sell out the 49er away game the happens every eight years.

    • Davis X. Machina

      Might be counting on a certain number of non-US fans… novelty and such.

      If I went to the UK, I would certainly try to hit an EPL or Championship fixture.

    • ColBatGuano

      The Raiders will sell out the 65,000-seat stadium, according to tourism estimates, by bringing roughly 22,000 tourists per game. Each of those tourists will stay an average of 3.2 nights, spending about $1,200 outside of the stadium while in town.

      Yeah, I’m sure lots of folks are going to spend 3-4 nights in Vegas to see the Jacksonville Jaguars play the Raiders.

      Also, how many of those out-of-towners are going to be people who were already in LV and said “Hey, we can get tickets to the Raiders for tomorrow.”?

      • Dilan Esper

        Bear in mind, people who live on the east side of Los Angeles can get to Vegas in less than 4 hours.

        • Breadbaker

          And home in the same amount of time, having spent nothing but to get a quick, cheap buffet and their StubHub ticket.

  • KNX

    As a Las Vegas resident, this one hits quite literally close to home. The most frustrating part of this process is that the vote wasn’t put to the people like it has been for some stadium proposals in other cities in the past. Instead, the legislature voted it through without giving the people a say. The polling on the subject from last year had Nevadans opposed to the proposal, and anecdotally everyone I’ve spoken to about this (save one) is opposed to using tax dollars in this way, and that group includes both Democrats and Republicans (curiously, the one supporter I know is a Democrat). Unfortunately our legislature is bought and paid for by the casinos (read: Sheldon Adelson) so here we are.

  • iliketurtles

    Nevada leg.–42 house members, 21 senate members.
    Max contribution=5,000 dollars. Times two for his wife.
    63 x 10,000= $630,000.
    Plus one newspaper = $140 million.

    So, spending $140,630,000 gets you $750,000,000.
    Nice deal if you can get it.

  • Bootsie

    The Bugsy Siegel/Mr. House Memorial Superdome

  • West

    This stadium scam obscenity intersects with your post on the building trade unions. I’m speaking generically here, because I am not sure how strong those unions are in Vegas; I don’t think they’re non-existent. But anyhow, in most places, the building trade unions are more than willing to see long term harm done to a city’s or county’s financial ability to pay firefighters, cops, and teachers (and everything else), in order to get a short-term pop for the trades. Never mind that the firefighters, etc, are also union. And the slimy team owners are always thrilled to be able to say “look, the unions support me!!! If you’re against the stadium you’re stabbing the workers in the back!!”. And if you make the argument that we could fill that same space with housing or other urban fabric, the building trade unions will scream bloody murder. It certainly fuels the suspicion that deals are being cut, whereby the unions help with the politics of laying hands on the public’s money, and the owners make sure the overtime isn’t counted too carefully.

    It just drives me nuts. These stadium scams are really obscene, and are harmful to all taxpayers, but especially to those workers farther down the income scale, and the building trade unions really show their allegiances in this area. Those allegiances don’t even extend in this instance to other unions’ long term interests.

    • Phil Perspective

      Don’t forget that the building trade unions are more likely to be the racist, and Republican, unions.

  • Bitter Scribe

    A guy who made a fortune from ripping off suckers is going to get a stadium subsidized by taxes paid by people staying at hotels, most of them there so that they can be suckered. Seems somehow appropriate.

    • Asteroid_Strike_Brexit

      You can have a great career working as a conman (or, in these PC times, conperson). One guy even rose to the Presidency working as a conman! I sometimes think the US economy is just people scamming each other relentlessly; if people woke up to this fact, there would be a massive depression as everyone stopped doing anything.

  • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

    Say what you will about Adelson, he hasn’t aged a day since he starred as Barron Harkonnen in David Lynch’s “Dune,” and he saved the production tons of money by agreeing to appear without makeup.

  • MPAVictoria

    Would literally rather burn money then give it to these crooks.

  • AMK

    And both chambers of the Nevada statehouse are controlled by Democrats. That’s fucking inexcusable.

  • charluckles

    My wife and I are degenerates who love nothing better than a night or two in Las Vegas. We also happen to love sports. But we go to Vegas specifically because we can do things we can’t do at home; gamble, walk down the street with a cocktail, see a live show etc. I honestly don’t think we would go to a game, even if it was a casino comp. There’s just too much else to do, and I can watch football anytime.

    This is lunacy.

  • Philip

    Maybe at least this will cannibalize the stupid NHL team and that will get moved to a city that should actually have a team (Portland? Seattle? Hamilton?)

    • West

      I vote for Quebec, though I doubt they have the needed pull.

      • Philip

        My ideal karmic payback world is that the Oakland Seals are resurrected, but even though the Bay is surprisingly hockey fan-heavy, I dunno if we can realistically support 2 teams.

        • West

          That’d be a hoot, but yeah, seems hard to believe two teams could make it there.

      • David Allan Poe

        The rumor with Quebec is that the NHL is holding them as a last resort for a team like Carolina if they have to move in a hurry.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        I thought that Quebec City used to have a team? In any case it’s really bizarre that they don’t have one today. And that they’re in line behind cities like Las Vegas.

        • West

          The Nordiques, who decamped to Colorado in 1995-ish to become the Avalanche. I agree it seems really odd they get put behind LV, but then the NHL’s geographical decisions have never made a lick of sense to me when one gets down to the fine details (by which I mean to infer, I DO get why they expanded south in a general sense).

          I hadn’t seen the rumor D A Poe notes.

          • rewenzo

            I’ve heard the rumor. QC is to fill the role that Winnipeg filled when they took the Atlanta Thrashers after the Thrashers couldn’t find somebody to own the team in Georgia. Carolina and Florida are the teams most like to need to flee north.

            In a similar way, I think Seattle is being kept warm for Phoenix, for when the owners trigger their out clause. (Although apparently they’re building a new arena in Phoenix for the Coyotes!) I heard the Coyotes were *this* close to being moved to Seattle before an 11th hour deal was arranged to keep them in Arizona. (Around that time the NHL told Vancouver it could not move its AHL affiliate to Seattle.)

            • efgoldman

              Carolina and Florida are the teams most like to need to flee north.

              Would they move the Panthers and leave the Lightning alone in Tampa Bay?
              NHL in any Florida never, ever made sense to me anyway.

              • David Allan Poe

                Part of the rationale, I believe, was that Florida is a huge winter destination for Northerners, and particularly Canadians, and the thought was that they would plan their trips to Florida around their teams’ visits.

                I have seen Habs fans say that games in Florida sometimes seem like home games with the amount of Montreal fans in the stands.

              • Philip

                My impression is that Tampa actually has a weirdly big following

  • Brautigan

    This is why, even though I played football in HS & College, and coached for years after that (and loved the game all those years), I no longer watch the NFL nor give a s**t. It is no longer a game, but another way to transfer wealth upwards.

  • Davis X. Machina

    What happened to the package Ronnie Lott’s team had put together to keep the team in Oakland?

    • West

      I am not deeply conversant with this, but from what I’ve heard from Bay Area friends, it seems the City of Oakland kind of passively sat back and hoped for Mr. Lott to sort it all out. And though I respect Ronnie Lott, from when I lived in the Bay Area during his playing days, it just doesn’t seem he has the financial/political moxie to swing such a deal without the City being really behind him. Especially when Nevada pols are willing to throw the Las Vegas budget over to the likes of Adelson and Davis. Maybe no one could have that much moxie. But it seems Oakland never really had Lott’s back. After all the shit the Davis family has put them through, I’m not sure if I can blame them, while at the same time feeling sorry to see Lott left twisting in the wind.

      But I defer to others who’ve followed this closer.

      • Bubblegum Tate

        Oakland resident here:

        I didn’t follow this super-closely, but my sense is that yeah, that’s pretty much it. The city’s stance was that we were perfectly happy to have the Raiders stay, and would even help out with things like permitting, infrastructure, transit, etc. But shaking the city down for stadium money or otherwise saddling the city with stadium debt was a non-starter.

        I, for one, am glad that we as a city told Mark “Kathy Geiss” Davis to go take a flying fuck at a rolling donut.

    • Colin Day

      Chris Collinsworth fumbled it?

  • “Las Vegas Raiders” sounds odd. All they need to add is a quarterback named Vito Andolini.

  • njorl

    Shouldn’t Las Vegas be charging the Raiders a premium for relocating there? “You can build your $1.9 billion dollar stadium, but you’ll have to pay a fee for using up all that space which could generate much more revenue than your stadium would.”

  • 4jkb4ia

    I am not even sure that politicians are rewarded for bringing teams to the metropolitan area any more than they would be for spending the money on any of those other things even if the fans will be more happy and satisfied than the LA fans are this year.

    • jamesepowell

      That would be an interesting study. Their rewards might be outside of politics. I’d also be curious to know if politicians get punished when a team leaves.

      As I mentioned upthread, I was in Cleveland when the Browns left. The mayor behaved as if his life depended on getting a commitment from the NFL to expand back into Cleveland.

  • BiloSagdiyev

    I’m very late to this thread, but I thought I’d add:

    1) I see no mention of, “There’s no water here! Knock it off! Everybody go back to where you came from, you idjits!” (I am a bad American.)

    2) Gambling. Any reason people won’t be able to gamble on the game, play by play, from their seats? I see real revenue-generating possibilities here!

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