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Sheldon Adelson: Stadium Takes Precedence Over Convention Center Coliseum

Already identified as a backer in the Oakland Raiders proposed move to Las Vegas, billionaire Sheldon Adelson says that a new NFL should take precedence over a convention center expansion.

As the chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp, Adelson is one of the higher-profile names in a proposal that also includes the Raiders, Majestic Realty, and UNLV. It was Adelson who made a public case in January for a domed stadium off the Las Vegas Strip that would house both the Raiders and UNLV’s football program.

Adelson is responding to a recent comment from MGM Resorts International chairman and CEO Jim Murren, who has expressed the opinion that an expanded convention center should be viewed as a higher priority. Of course, both projects are facing their share of scrutiny from state legislators. An increase of 0.5% for Clark County’s hotel tax rate has already been recommended by the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee for the convention center, and a similar funding model has been discussed for the Raiders stadium. That prompted a recent comment from Nevada senate majority leader Michael Roberson, who said that in order for either project to pass, they may need to be linked.

Whether Roberson’s opinion eventually becomes a consensus remains to be seen, but Adelson believes that the economic impact of a new stadium will far outweigh any benefit of a convention center expansion. More from the Las Vegas Review Journal:

Adelson’s statement disputed Murren’s position that the convention center expansion is a “must-have” tourism amenity while the stadium would be “nice to have.” Adelson, whose company operates The Venetian, Palazzo and the Sands Expo and Convention Center, said the stadium is the “must-have” amenity.

“I have no economic reason or rationale to object to the convention center expansion, except to say that based on my experience that a stadium in Las Vegas is a must-have and the convention center expansion is not even a nice-to-have,” Adelson said.

Adelson said major conventions and trade shows would stay in Las Vegas even if the convention center is not expanded. Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority executives have said the city will lose convention business to other cities if the expansion plan is rejected.

“No shows are going to leave Las Vegas for another city,” Adelson said. “I’ve personally spoken to organizers, including the ones referenced by the LVCVA, and only one said his show could fit in another city — but he had no intention of even considering that.

“Additionally, the likelihood of attracting new shows remains extremely unlikely,” he said. “Many of the shows the LVCVA has targeted to bring to Las Vegas want to come during times early in the year when all of the hotel rooms in town are already booked with existing conventions.”

For now, the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure committee says that it views the convention center and stadium proposals as separate plans that do not need to be linked. At this point, the Raiders’ stadium is expected to cost between $1.7 and $2.1 billion, with developers seeking a public contribution of $750 million.

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