Las Vegas Sun

September 16, 2014

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County wants arena details, says public money unlikely

The threat of fancy new arenas in other states drawing events from Las Vegas isn’t enough to get Clark County commissioners to promise public funds to build a new venue here.

Commissioners today asked county staff to collect information and report back on proposals to build arenas in the county, but they made clear they aren’t promising public funds or even official support to any of the proposals.

“I don’t want the vote today to be any kind of indication that this board is accepting that we need an arena,” Commissioner Larry Brown said. “We’re going to hear presentations and receive information, but speaking personally, I’m very reluctant to even give an indication that we’re going to support a publicly funded arena unless it’s a scenario that hasn’t been presented before.”

Comptroller Ed Finger said the county will issue a request for information from arena backers and return to the board with a full report during its May 20 meeting.

So far, officials behind at least one arena proposal have requested support from the county, and Finger said he expects the county will have other groups asking for public financing for their plans.

Brown said there is no question that a new arena would be good for the county, and he would be happy to support a privately funded plan, but now is not the time to promise public money.

Commissioners Rory Reid, Susan Brager and Chris Giunchigliani also said they were concerned about using public funds for an arena.

“I think an arena is a great idea if the public isn’t paying for it,” Brager said.

Reid asked county staff to include an analysis of the legal and financial aspects of the arena proposals.

Commissioner Steve Sisolak asked specifically to learn if the county would be liable if a new arena failed to pay its debt.

“If we count on a revenue stream, whether it’s from redevelopment, from ticket surcharges, sales taxes, whatever, and that stream does not materialize, or does not materialize in the amount that would be necessary to service those bonds, who would be on the hook for that?” he asked.

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