The NHL announced this week that its owners had approved an expansion franchise in Las Vegas, bringing professional sports to the city for the first time. Now, Republican mega-donor and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson wants to bring an NFL team to Vegas too -- and he wants $750 million in taxpayer money to make it happen.
The $750 million, financed with municipal bonds that would be paid off by hotel taxes, would go toward a new domed football stadium Adelson and a development group have proposed, according to Bloomberg. That figure would surpass the $620 million Indianapolis spent on a new stadium for the Colts, making it the biggest public contribution toward a stadium in American history, based on figures compiled last year by the Taxpayer Protection Alliance.
Adelson, who now owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is pitching the stadium as a means of enticing the Oakland Raiders to move to Vegas. The Raiders and owner Mark Davis have sought a new publicly funded stadium from the city of Oakland, but Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has said that while she is confident the city can keep the team, it won't subsidize a new stadium with public money.
In January, Davis tried to relocate the Raiders to Los Angeles, where the team played from 1982 to 1994, but the St. Louis Rams beat him to the punch. He's also visited San Antonio and other cities in an effort to either find a city that will give him hundreds of millions in taxpayer money for a new stadium, or to exert leverage on Schaaf and Oakland to do the same.
The NFL, like America's other pro sports leagues, has been reluctant to consider moving a franchise to Vegas in the past, given its obvious association with legalized gambling.
But this is a league that loves little more than pressuring cities to get what it wants -- its current stadiums have cost taxpayers more than $7 billion, according to the Taxpayer Protection Alliance -- so if there's anything that can assuage the NFL's Vegas fears, it may just be the chance to take even more money from the public for the benefit of its wealthy owners and billionaires like Adelson.