By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
State Treasurer Dan Schwartz, a Republican candidate for governor, said Wednesday that if elected, he would try to scale back plans for the Raiders stadium in Las Vegas by taking the out the $750 million in room-tax funding for the project.
Schwartz, speaking on Nevada Newsmakers, said he’d rather re-direct that tax money into Nevada’s sagging public education system.
If elected, Schwartz could cause heartburn for the $1.8 billion stadium project. He promised to hold up funding for the roads, freeway on-ramps and off ramps that the stadium needs — if the tax money is not cut from the project.
“Yeah, the deal is going to have to be re-cut,” Schwartz said. “And you are saying, how are you going to do that? And you are right. I can’t go interfere with a contract.
“But what I can do is that the state is in charge of the roads. And I can say, ‘You want to go to the Raiders stadium? Well, you can get there on roller skates because I ain’t building any roads.”
The $750 million is the largest public allocation ever for the sports stadium, according to reports.
Schwartz joins Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Giunchigliani — a Clark County commissioner — in opposition to the tax money for the stadium. The tax money for the stadium was overwhelmingly approved by the Legislature in a special session.
“Why are we taking $750 million in public funds when we have the worst schools in the nation and using it to effectively pay for a stadium for a group of guys who are billionaires?” Schwartz said.
Nevada ranks No. 45 in the nation in per-pupil spending, according to the latest figures available in Governing Magazine. Nevada has similar rankings in other national studies. So Schwartz wants Clark County room taxes that are earmarked for the stadium to go to education instead and come in with a less expensive stadium.
“I’m not saying there should not be a stadium,” Schwartz said. “I don’t mind building a $1 billion stadium. That’s the point. We don’t need to spend $2 billion dollars on the Taj Mahal of stadiums.”
Schwartz was critical of the Raiders pro football franchise and the NFL for putting less money into the stadium plan than tax payers.
The Raiders, however, would contribute about $850 million to the $1.8 billion or $1.9 billion project and the NFL would add $200 million in a loan program the Raiders would have to repay, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Recently Clark County commissioners approved the financing mechanism for the tax money allocation. The stadium is expected to be ready for the 2020 football season.
Much of the tax money would be paid by tourists, in the form of taxes on hotel rooms they rent.
“This isn’t a question about who is paying the money,” Schwartz said. “It is a question about where that money is going. Getting this state’s education system right is going to take money. And I’d rather spend the money on that than spend it on a football stadium.”
Schwartz sees huge cost overruns with the current plans.
“This is a myth,” he said. “This ain’t going to cost $2 billion. It is going to cost $3 billion. People in Oakland (current home of the Raiders) have said that. People with the Raiders have said that. So again, this is Faraday Future all over again, which is the phantom automobile plant (that was never built in North Las Vegas).
“We are going to have a stadium that we have been told is going to cost a certain amount,” he said. “But it is going to cost 50 percent more. And it could be redesigned. There is no reason why you can’t build a $1 billion stadium, just because they have (already) broken ground.
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