LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Allegiant Stadium was built to be home to the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders and to be a cash cow for our city and Southern Nevada — a structure that would pump millions into our local economy.
The state bet on the building and pledged $790 million — a bet that has all of Southern Nevada watching very closely as COVID-19 has crippled our tourism based economy.
Las Vegas was hopping a year ago. Room tax dollars were feeding the state’s appetite for the $2 billion stadium at a rate of nearly $4 million per month.
January 2020 was the biggest gain, but then COVID crushed Las Vegas. Room tax dollars disappeared but payment obligations did not.
“As we sit here right now in January of 2021, the Stadium Authority Board has about a little over $57 million in reserves, which is enough to fully fund the bond payments over the next 18 months,” said analyst Jeremy Aguero.
That is a year and half to pay city debts if Las Vegas became a ghost town.
With two reserve funding pools the authority board has been forced to dip its toes into those waters. Two years of the same lockdown and they would be drowning in debt with no safety net.
With a tourism-based economy, there is no city like the sports and entertainment capitol of the world. So, when sports start drying like we have seen this past year, the lost revenue is staggering.
“It’s measured in the billions of dollars,” Aguero said. “Gross economic impact and that’s the total spend and everything that happens. I’m telling you I think that’s well in excess of a billion dollars probably closer to approaching $2 billion.”
Those are real dollars lost when NASCAR, the NFR, PBR, conference basketball tournaments, boxing, UFC, college bowl games, WNBA, UNLV sports and any other sporting event closes its doors.
But there’s hope on the Las Vegas horizon and it is sports.
“I don’t think there’s going to be any greater sign of Las Vegas resurgence then an Allegiant Stadium filled with 65,000 screaming Raiders fans to broadcast to 16 million people — all of the United States in many ways the world showing Las Vegas is open again.”
Las Vegas will rebound, it carries weight that name — Las Vegas.
It is resilient. It is built by winners who came before us, and even during a pandemic, people are still moving into Las Vegas.
“When people vote with their feet, in that way it’s sort of an indication of the good that has been done by those who came before us,” Aguero said.
Place your bets ladies and gentlemen.