Assembly stalled on stadium construction bill; to reconvene at 9 a.m.
After a daylong battle to get the final few votes to approve the Raider’s stadium project, the Nevada Assembly stalled and put off final passage of the bill until Friday.
They will return at 9 a.m. to try finish the job.
As of 9 p.m., backers of the stadium funding bill were six votes shy of the 28 needed to reach the two-thirds majority. The super majority is required because SB1 would impose increases in the Clark County room tax.
When they were finally ready to vote, they received word of a new report saying NDOT would need $900 million worth of road and freeway work to accommodate the stadium.
NDOT Director Rudy Malfabon came to the legislature at midnight to tell them that wasn’t true, that those projects were already in the pipeline for that area and were the result of traffic increases — not the stadium. He added that some of those projects are planned for more than a decade in the future and have nothing to do with the stadium.
“These projects were already under way,” he said. “Coincidentally they will support the traffic that is generated from the stadium.”
He said NDOT has no intention of asking for more money because of the stadium project.
Several lawmakers including Reno’s Teresa Benitez-Thompson and Hillary Swank of Las Vegas charged that failing to even mention that report kept lawmakers form knowing a vital piece of information about the project’s impact.
The Assembly spent hours Thursday hearing the same testimony from the same proponents and opponents the Senate heard from Tuesday evening before breaking for dinner shortly before 9 p.m.
The Senate passed the measure 16-5 on Tuesday evening.
An army of lobbyists hired by the Raiders, Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson, Clark County and unions who want the construction jobs put pressure on every doubtful lawmaker to vote for the bill. They argued the stadium is a game changer that would keep Las Vegas as the nation’s top tourism destination for decades to come.
Funding for the $1.9 billion stadium project would also come from Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson, $650 million, and $550 million from the Davis family — owners of the Raiders.
Another half percent increase in the room tax would support bonds to add 1.4 million square feet of space to the convention center. In addition that project will take a large amount of the money the convention and visitor’s authority distributes to local governments, generating an estimated $132 million. The final piece of that puzzle is $848 million from existing revenues generated by the center for a total of $1.4 billion.
The measure uses General Obligation bonds instead of revenue bonds because experts say those bonds get a better interest rate because they’re backed by Clark County. In case revenues from the stadium aren’t enough to make the bond payments, the bill mandates the stadium authority build up a two-year reserve to make those payments. If that’s not enough, Clark County would be on the hook for any shortfall.
The NDOT report said the state would need to accelerate at least $899 million in Las Vegas freeway improvements if a new stadium opens by 2019 at either of the two sites under consideration by the dome’s developers, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal story. But the story also stated NDOT said the money was already needed, so there was no fiscal impact on its department. The late breaking Thursday night news still frustrated some lawmakers who took to social media to express their frustration.
Even if the stadium deal passes, three-fourths of NFL owners must approve any plan to move the Raiders from Oakland to Las Vegas. The City of Oakland says it’s still working on its own stadium plan in hopes of convincing the team to stay in the Bay Area.
The other measure before lawmakers was AB1, which raises Clark County’s sales tax a tenth of a percent. That bill easily cleared its final hurdle in the Senate by a 21-0 unanimous vote. The money will be used to hire more than 460 additional police officers in Clark County with nearly a quarter of those slated for the resort corridor. There were only seven in the Assembly who voted against the plan. AB1 is on its way to the governor for his signature.