Las Vegas is in serious need of a new stadium, seriously! Yes, I know that come April 2016, the brand new 20,000 seat Las Vegas Arena will open up. But have you seen the line up already?
The new arena MAY be home to a NHL Hockey team. Country icon George Strait took a tip from Garth Brooks and decided he wanted to do a series of “Vegas Only” shows that will be at the new arena. The PBR World Finals will call the new space home in 2016 and almost every other sporting event, concert promoter and convention group has been seeking ways to get in and have use of this facility.
In other Words: They are booked and the doors aren’t even open yet!
But Wait You Say!
How could we want yet another stadium when we still have one that rarely fills up and the one planned for downtown never made it past initial planning? Don’t you need a Professional Sports team to fill the place?
- Sam Boyd Stadium. This where the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels try to pretend they play football. It sits almost 10 miles away from the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus in the suburb of Henderson. It seats 36,000 people. This would be perfect if it were closer to the action, close to the students it’s supposedly for.The only time this place sees a sold out crowd is for anything that includes a Monster Truck and for the UNLV vs Wisconsin Badgers game.
Since this place rarely sees any action or people, why not sell the land to the developers who are screaming for land in that neighborhood? Use that money to finish the deal to build a domed stadium next To The University!! Imagine, a college stadium right next to the college! What a concept!
- The downtown soccer stadium. This was/is nothing but a political hack job gone really bad. Kind of like Obama and his Solyndra deal, only on a smaller scale. A stadium built to appease a small group of well-connected political friends who have donated heavily to the Mayor and her Democratic party. They are wanting to build an open air stadium for a game that is played on a professional level, at the hottest times of the year.
This was all to be paid for by adding another tourist tax on top of the already high tourist taxes imposed on downtown business owners and tourists alike.(*)
- Don’t We Need a Sports Team for the new Stadium First? This is the one 90% of the pundits and armchair Vegas quarterbacks get wrong. They get it wrong because they think Las Vegas is just like Chicago, New Orleans and Omaha. We are not them. We are Las Vegas. A tourist town built on gambling, sin, and conventions.
We have over 4 million square feet of convention space and looking for more. We hold more sports related events here BECAUSE of our sports neutrality than we would if we had a Pro-Sports team based here.
I have always said that the first Pro-Sports team t locate here would be like printing money. I still believe it to be true. It would be a money-maker. But Las Vegas does not need a pro-sports team as badly as the pro-sports world needs a team here.
Most cities use their arenas and stadiums for only a few, very specific purposes. Because this is Las Vegas, our stadiums, arenas and convention centers are filled with many unique, one of a kind events. We have no limits on the imagination. Meeting people, event planners, and branding experts come here to show off. They get to be creative in what they host and how they do it. We don’t know how to say “no” to a new idea to present an event or a brand.
The Money Issue
The big question everyone likes to ask and few dare to answer it. “Who would pay for it?”
Here’s the funny thing. We have an organization here called the “Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority” also known as The LVCVA. It’s stated mission is “To attract visitors by promoting Las Vegas as the world’s most desirable destination for leisure and business travel.” – They are funded from the room taxes you pay when stay at a hotel in Las Vegas. They have hundreds of millions of dollars to spend to help promote tourism to Las Vegas.
You would think that such an organization would be spearheading the funding for a new stadium that would benefit tourism to all of Southern Nevada. But they won’t. That’s not what they really do (*). So it is left to the two big dogs in town, MGM and Caesars, to fund their own arenas and stadiums. Anything that would benefit las Vegas tourism overall, needs to be paid for by other sources, like taxes.
Robert Lang writing in the Las Vegas Sun, explained this very well in a Op-Ed piece comparing Las Vegas to Orlando. The next biggest tourist town. Las Vegas taxes on tourism while rival Orlando invests In a politically correct way, He Nails It! He talks about how the tourism taxes in Orlando get spent on projects benefiting Orlando Tourism. Where tourism tax dollars in Las Vegas doesn’t.
The Politically incorrect way
(*) What I think Robert Lang is trying to say in a way that won’t piss off Las Vegas Sun advertisers, is what I have found to be true when working with the LVCVA and the people and organizations they fund. The Orlando Tourism Tax is a general fund used to pay for things that would benefit tourism in and around Orlando. Meaning even the smallest tourism attraction or event has a shot at some funding if needed. Here in Las Vegas and with the LVCVA, the money must be spent in a way that directly benefits MGM or Caesars. If not, it will be turned down. The smaller players or those not connected to MGM or Caesars can find their own funding.
Yes, we need more stadiums and arenas. No, we don’t need to tax the tourist any more than we already do. The money is there. Use it.
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