Rumors of an NFL franchise moving to Las Vegas have long been swirling. With the NHL announcing that they would expand to Sin City, it has churned the rumor mill even more that Las Vegas will eventually receive an NFL team. The Oakland Raiders have been the team that's been linked to a move and it is looking more and more likely to happen as now the discussion has commenced about how to fund the stadium.
The current push is to get some public assistance as there are a lot of private entities already making a big investment. The person behind the quest to get the public to foot the bill is Sheldon Adelson, whom you might know as the owner of Las Vegas Sands. Adelson is putting in $650 million to build this stadium, but that's just a portion of the estimated $1.9 billion cost. Another $500 million is expected to come from the Raiders franchise. Of course, getting the public to chip in is always a touchy subject as it involves the city raising taxes and nobody likes that.
Adelson's plan to get the remaining $750 million needed is by adding a small tax on hotel rooms in Las Vegas. The number that's being bandied about is less than a percent (0.88%) for rooms on the Las Vegas Strip and then 0.5% on places in Clark County. This plan has received support from the likes of Steve Wynn, who is the CEO of Wynn Resorts, Caesars Entertainment executive and former Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones Blackhurst and MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren. The idea would be to keep the tax in place until they've raised the money and then remove it, but some people fear that this could become a permanent tax.
The public aren't fully onboard because it could have a negative impact on the local economy. First off, there is already a tax of 0.5% on rooms that is needed to pay for expansion of the convention center and then there is already a 12% tax on rooms in Las Vegas beyond that. Added together, Las Vegas would have among the highest taxed hotel rooms in the country. Only 35% of people that live in Clark County support this public-funding plan, and 60% of people who live in the state of Nevada. Although one percent may not seem like much, there is a breaking point when the rooms become too expensive and visitors opt to find a cheaper destination.
The selling point is that the NFL team will bring in more people, which means more tourism and money all around. Even if there are some short-term pains with the higher taxes, there will eventually be gains down the road. Having an NFL team near The Strip would be yet another huge draw that would attract tourists, fans and foot traffic. That would translate into more business for the local economy. While a lot of people fly into Las Vegas for the destination itself, football fans in the Nevada and California area would visit on Sundays to fill up the stadium and have some fun on The Strip. And think about weekly events pertaining to the team, after parties and celebrations. And imagine if the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl or NFL Draft was hosted in Las Vegas; that would boost the economy even more.
The fact that the discussion has already begun on how to fund the NFL stadium indicates just how likely it is that a team will eventually move there. For many years, the NFL was averse to placing a franchise in Sin City but now - if they can figure out how to pay for the stadium - it looks like it's just a matter of time.