Update: Sources tell me they still lack the votes, mostly from Democrats, to pass the bill. Lobbying by Fisher and Kaval ongoing.
Before you frown, the title is sarcasm. The truth is, I am sitting here in somnambulant disbelief, watching the state of Nevada, and Clark County, turning Las Vegas into a playground for the wealthy, first spending on a football team, then inconveniencing everyone for a Formula 1 race, but finally..this is just too much.
The same arguments are made each time: “The project will create jobs.”
My answer: The Tropicana doesn’t have a robot workforce.
“It will be good for the community!”
My answer: How? How will a stadium on the Las Vegas Strip, further clogging up traffic next to one of the world’s busiest airports, be good for the community?
What am I talking about? I am talking about the nearly half-billion dollar boondoggle developing in Las Vegas. The Oakland A’s franchise wants to move to Las Vegas? Fine. Buy your land, and build as big of a stadium as you want.
Call yourself the Las Vegas Magic Mikes and play in speedos for all I care, if you are paying for it.
But no, the project is supposed to be funded with some $380 million of state funding, state bonds, county bonds, and of course, the obligatory 30 year property tax abatement for the club.
In fact, local lawmakers can’t even guarantee that resident property taxes won’t go up to pay for this toy. And that is what it is, a big, green and gold, hideous toy. That is all this is, that, and welfare for the wealthy.
Senate Bill 509, was introduced on Friday and would give the A’s $380 million in public funding. The majority of the money, $180 million, would come from the state, Clark County would contribute $145 million, and $25 million would come from a special tax district in and around the stadium.
Some Las Vegas residents who attended the public hearing said they were not too keen on the proposal for all of that money to be spent while others felt it was a strategic move to have the meeting on a holiday.
So let’s take a look at how many jobs the average MLB stadium, excepting construction, provides.
In 2020, when the pandemic struck, about 39,000 stadium workers had their jobs paused or lost. This breaks down to roughly 1,300 per club, and if we narrow it down further, to just the stadium workers, probably about 500-650 for each team.
According to this site, the Tropicana employs 1,432 employees, most of them union. The good news is the A’s have reached an agreement with Culinary 226 to give workers the right to form a union. But the net jobs aspect is not in the stadium’s favor. The jobs will be fewer, lower paying, and more seasonal.
- Tropicana Las Vegas has 1,432 employees.
- 36% of Tropicana Las Vegas employees are women, while 64% are men.
- The most common ethnicity at Tropicana Las Vegas is White (54%).
- 23% of Tropicana Las Vegas employees are Hispanic or Latino.
- 9% of Tropicana Las Vegas employees are Black or African American.
- The average employee at Tropicana Las Vegas makes $37,559 per year.
- Tropicana Las Vegas employees are most likely to be members of the Democratic party.
- On average, employees at Tropicana Las Vegas stay with the company for 4.1 years.
For point of reference, Forbes says the average Los Angeles Dodger stadium concession worker makes, drumroll,
$12,000. That’s how much the average Dodger Stadium concessions worker makes annually across the Dodgers’ 81 home games, Unite Here told ESPN.
As far as construction goes, I have never seen Vegas not in construction mode. My guess is they would cope somehow if the stadium bill were to fail. Here is what is projected:
Presenters projected $900 million in annual construction wages and $17 million in tax revenue from operations each year in a study run by firms including Goldman Sachs, and funded by the Athletics. They said the state’s general fund would increase from the project.
“This is a good investment,” said Steve Hill, president of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, adding that Las Vegas’ tourists would help fill the stadium. “There will be more money available at both the state and local level, if this deal is done then if it’s not.”
But this is the reality: While $900 million in construction wages sounds good, that is only short term until it is built. And wait, how is that even possible if the stadium is slated to cost $1.5 billion total?
The Nevada Independent’s report notes that the A’s intend to to begin construction on their new stadium sometime next year. That would put the stadium in line to be opened in 2027, although construction delays could push that to 2028. Should that come to pass, it would mark the completion of the A’s seemingly never-ending journey to land a new ballpark.
At least four years of construction, at $900 million annually, for a stadium that costs $1.5 billion. Now math is not my strong suit but..
And, so far we are up to nearly half a billion dollars in debt, (because really, there won’t be cost overruns?) for about one third of the average wage (compared to The Tropicana) for many, for one third of the total jobs.
But let’s look at other factors, such as, the number of unhoused in Las Vegas and what could be done about that. First, we will look to Austin, TX for a blueprint.
When Alan Graham refers to the residents of Community First! Village as “neighbors,” he’s speaking to the community created in this enclave of tiny homes, microhomes and RVs soon to expand beyond its 51-acre plot in East Austin.
Graham, a former real estate developer who launched the faith-based social outreach ministry Mobile Loaves & Fishes in 1998 to serve Austin’s homeless community, conceived of the neighborhood as a way to help people transition from chronic homelessness.
What I want you to focus on specifically is this number, below:
MLF bills Community First! Village as “the country’s only master-planned development designed specifically for men and women coming out of chronic homelessness,” but Graham and his wife call it something else: Home. A $36.6 million grant from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, announced last December, will anchor MLF’s plans to create an additional 1,400 homes for the homeless through a $150 million capital campaign, calling it “a significant next step in delivering upon our broader Ten Year Plan to Mitigate Homelessness in Austin.”
Depending on the size, if Nevada really had an itch to sell bonds, they could use that to fund a community of tiny homes, that, dependent upon the size of the home, could house 3,000-8,000 people.
You mean to tell me while 5,000 human beings suffer in homelessness in Clark County nightly this stadium project could house all of them? Or at least, a large percentage, while funding proper treatment for various illnesses, mental among them, for the rest? You have the capacity to print bonds out of thin air for a baseball team, but your city looks like this?
Oh wait, “I don’t understand.” “It will be good for everyone. It will create jobs. It will be exciting.”
You know what would be exciting, Nevada? If when I walked down the street I did not feel like America had abanadoned all sense of humanity. If there were not people lying on newspaper covered pavement so they did not burn their skin.
Now while this proposal does contain, $5,000,000 of funding for strip homeless “after everything else” is “covered” that is nothing compared to the enormity of the task Las Vegas faces. This state spent $1.5 billion on the Raiders football team, I don’t know how many millions on Formula 1, there is not even a proper public accounting of those expenditures, and now the state wants to fund a toy for the wealthy.
You see there is no way a 30,000 seat stadium, undersized by MLB standards, will have tickets remotely affordable for the average person. In fact, Las Vegas is becoming a city funded by taxpayers, mostly low or middle-income, to pay for toys that lock them out of enjoying it.
Imagine that. A system that takes from the poor to build toys for the rich, that futher isolates the poor. And just how much is spent on the unhoused crisis yearly? As of 2019:
Homelessness could cost Southern Nevada as much as $1.1 billion annually within 20 years, the Las Vegas City Council was told Wednesday. “We think the problem is going to get worse,” said Jeremy Aguero of Applied Analysis. “The cost of housing is becoming more challenging. Our population continues to grow and the demand for services continues to increase.”
A report Aguero presented estimates Clark County as a whole spends about $26,000 per person experiencing homelessness, at a cost of about $369 million in 2019. Interviewed after the council meeting, Aguero said the rising costs of homeless services, along with a potential increase to the homeless population, could result in the billion dollar estimate.
What are you doing with this money, Clark County?
The report indicated that jails, hospitals, social services and shelters add to the overall public costs of homelessness, though there wasn’t any specific breakdown on each service cost. Aguero said while it’s known those services factor into the high costs of homelessness, specific data is complicated to track.
Wait these are public and private sources, and a broad definition of unhoused related expenditures, what are you actually spending on the problem Southern Nevada? As of 2020.
Southern Nevada invests about $70 million annually into homeless services according to the data shown to the group. But if the region served and rehoused an estimated 14,600 people a year it would need $305 million.
That number would fluctuate depending on the number of people entering and exiting homelessness each year.
The $305 million includes expanding capacity such as adding 3,886 additional rapid rehousing beds and 868 transitional housing beds.
$70 million. And this is to say nothing of the tooth and nail fight to fund a pay raise for teachers, which we are told is, you guessed it, too expensive. How expensive?
Less than the stadium, that apparently, Nevada can afford. What is Nevada, again? 49th in education?
Democratic lawmakers propose $250 million to boost educator raises
Boy howdy there are some things $380 million sure would help, the homeless crisis, teacher pay, infrastructure, public safety, that pesky Lake Mead running dry problem, because last I checked, humans have a thing about you know, needing water to survive.
But no, let’s build a stadium.
And what of the A’s economic impact? They say as many as 400,000 hotel rooms could be booked yearly because of this project. I’m sorry, did Las Vegas have a lack of visitors I was unaware of?
And what does that actually equate to?
If the idea is as great as we have been promised, there will be enough private investors to back it. Clark County should not lose $500 million plus interest and future borrowing power to finance a baseball stadium that, at the A’s generous estimates, would only increase tourism by 1 percent.
-John Mehaffey, The Nevada Independent
You see the truth is, there are over 500,000 unhoused Americans in need. And if we were to build tiny homes for all of them, it would cost just over..wait for it, one tenth of Elon’s 2022 estimated net wealth.
So like anything else, if this country would do one thing to not prioritize choking wealth, and actually help the everyday person, all of the crises could be fixed? You mean, it’s possible to literally restore the United States of America?
But no, let’s tax the poor, and fund the wealthy, and build garish, ugly stadiums that only the wealthy will enjoy, overlooking the view of the penultimate example of wealth disparity in the nation.
Look at this proposed monument to greed, excess, and bad taste.
See that little plaza in front on the bottom picture? There will probably be unhoused human beings and pets sleeping there one day, wondering why a lousy baseball team got to have a roof over its head..
and they didn’t.
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