Sheldon Adelson is a billionaire. He is the CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which owns and operates such properties as the Sands Expo, The Venetian, and The Palazzo (all in Las Vegas, Nevada); Sands Macao, Cotai Arena, The Venetian Macao, The Plaza Macao, San Cotai Central, The Parisian, Four Seasons Hotel Macao, Conrad Macao, Holiday Inn Macao, Sheraton Macao, and the St. Regis Macao (all in Macao, China); the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania); and Marina Bay Sands (Marina Bay, Singapore). It's the largest casino company in the world.
On Thursday, per Bloomberg.com, Adelson proposed to a committee of government leaders and casino executives a 65,000-seat domed football stadium in Las Vegas that would include the largest taxpayer subsidy in the history of sports stadiums, the better to lure a team like the Oakland Raiders out to the Nevada desert. The plan would be to raise $750 million for the stadium through a tax on hotel stays, per Bloomberg. The current largest stadium subsidy is the $620 million raised to build Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
A rival proposal, backed by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval's top economic adviser, suggested a scaled back public contribution of $500 million, with the private contribution increased to $900 million. That plan was introduced to the committee by Steve Hill, the head of Sandoval's office of economic development. It would come up for a vote on July 11, according to a spokesman for Hill's office.
Massive public contributions supplemented by small contributions from billionaire owners are the new norm for NFL stadiums, despite the lack of evidence that sports stadiums provide a benefit to the city beyond short-term job benefits in construction (to build the stadium) and things like civic pride. Numerous studies have been conducted on this issue. (As Seahawks corner Richard Sherman recently expounded upon.)
Despite that fact, the NFL and its owners and potential owners continue to parrot the line that stadiums are good for cities. An example:
Adelson, who built a $23.6 billion fortune running casinos, last year bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal, one of the city's daily newspapers. In March, the paper wrote in an editorial that a new stadium is "one piece of tourism infrastructure" that is missing from the Las Vegas strip. The paper disclosed that its owner is also behind the company promoting the stadium.
President Obama tried to include a provision in his budget last year that would eliminate the tax benefit of stadium subsidies, but it was shot down.