Council approves new Las Vegas MLS stadium–with no public funding

New Las Vegas MLS stadium

A Las Vegas MLS stadium is alive and kicking after City Council approval, but a 6-1 vote yielded one big drawback: public funding of the facility is off the table.

That leaves The Cordish Cos. and Findlay Sports & Entertainment with a huge challenge: how to fund the $200 million project without at least $90 million ($3 million a year for 30 years) in hotel room tax collections, money currently used to fund city parks. Cordish had gone before the City Council last week with a new plan that called for a $250-million development next to the proposed downtown Las Vegas stadium site, but the response from the Council was clear: that money could be better spent on the stadium and not a new development.

In addition, the 6-1 City Council vote was a little vague: the nonbinding resolution did move the process along, giving Cordish and Findlay until early December to arranging financing for the project, but it didn’t specify exactly what public funding was removed. Besides the $3 million annually in hotel taxes, the original financing plan also called for $21 million from a tourism district tax and $14 million in infrastructure improvements. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

A partnership of The Cordish Cos. and Findlay Sports &Entertainment wants the city to spend $3 million annually for 30 years — or $90 million — to borrow $46 million to help pay for the 24,000-seat stadium. The developers also want $21 million in public dollars from a tourism sales tax district around the stadium and $14 million in infrastructure work.

But if no public dollars are used to build the soccer stadium, then the city has “removed themselves from the partnership,” said Dean Howes, a sports stadium adviser working with Findlay Sports.

“They worded it poorly,” Howes said after the vote. “They have to come back and tell us what it means.”

As noted, the project is still alive, but the uncertainly comes at a bad time, as MLS officials are in the process of deciding what two cities will be awarded expansion franchises down the road. The Vegas bid does rely on a new stadium; no new stadium, no MLS team. It’s really as simple as that.

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