Las Vegas NFL stadium over major hurdle

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The plan for a nearly $2 billion NFL stadium for the Raiders in Las Vegas is a major step closer to becoming a reality.

The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee voted unanimously Thursday to support spending $750 million in public funds to support the stadium. 

This was a huge hurdle to clear for stadium proponents and now opens the door for lawmakers to tackle this in the coming weeks.

After months of negotiations, some happening right up until Thursday’s vote, all 11 members of the committee threw their support behind the $1.9 billion project.

It didn’t take long for word of the committee’s decision to reach construction workers tailgating outside the meeting.

“It’s really wonderful, it’s a lot of work for a lot of laborers, and a lot of work for the whole city,” said Eric Johnson, a construction worker.

Committee members unanimously approved the bill language that is heading for Governor Brian Sandoval’s desk. But a special session is needed to approve the framework that will allow the NFL stadium to be built with $750 million in public funding which will come from a new room tax.

Supporters are hoping for a special session soon.

“That is going to be up to the governor, we’ve always made it clear that if we go after the election, it makes it more difficult,” said Andy Abboud, vice president, Las Vegas Sands.

Much of the debate in recent weeks has centered around financing and Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani who’s against publicly financing the stadium expressed concerns about who’s on the hook for the bonds that will be issued to pay for construction.

“Revenue bonds really make better sense if you’re going to do it versus go (general obligation) bonds, why you’re dumping it on the county instead of at the state level is very frustrating to some of us on the county commission,” she said.

Along those lines, county commission Chairman Steve Sisolak raised several objections in recent weeks regarding whether or not taxpayers would be protected if the project went under. Thursday, he voted yes on the project and is confident taxpayers won’t be on the hook.

“I’m absolutely confident, we’ve got the reserve debt service fund to two years so there’s going to be adequate reserves,” he said.

It’s now up to the governor to call a special session.

Economic Development Director Steve Hill calls this perhaps the biggest public project in state history.

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