Late last night there was a flurry of legislative news out of Carson City, NV. It included the following:
In this case, Clark County would have been allowed to increase sales taxes to help fund a ballpark somewhere in the county using STAR (Sales Tax Anticipated Revenue) bonds. Thankfully, local legislators saw the folly in the proposal and nixed the idea, having seen evidence of their minimal efficacy in Northern Nevada. That didn’t stop Southern Nevada lobbyists from pushing for it.
Lobbyist Warren Hardy, representing a consortium of Southern Nevada governments, said there was interest in allowing STAR Bonds and tourism improvement districts as a potential “tool in the toolbox” for developers — including potentially the Oakland A’s, who have publicly floated moving the professional baseball team to Las Vegas.
STAR bonds couldn’t practically fund most of a ballpark because the actual sales tax revenue generated annually by a ballpark isn’t enough to service the debt. Let’s say that a new ballpark brings in $200 million a year. If you take a 5% sales tax from those sales (tickets, merchandise, etc.) it nets $10 million in bond-associated revenue. That’s not going to fund squat these days. If you create a mega-development around the ballpark that could draw more tourists and their revenue you might have a shot. You’d need a development that brings in $1 Billion a year to get to $50 million in set asides for a ballpark. Currently, Clark County’s sales tax is 8.375%, and you’ll be funding a black hole that traps tourist revenue while suffocating other businesses in the area. I can’t imagine the privately-funded gaming interests going for that.
That said, lobbyists have their toolbox. Who knows what they’ll pull out of it next?
Meanwhile, in the East Bay, the A’s are scrounging for Howard Terminal support.
Admittedly I’m being rather passive aggressive about this. Such is Twitter. Then again, the A’s want a vote in July before the City of Oakland fully studies the proposal, and the City wants the County to pledge its share of property taxes to the project. I have about as much of a PR strategy as anyone else involved in this charade.