While there’s been some snarkiness in the national press, there’s been virtually no negative local reaction to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s 20-year, $80-million naming rights agreement for a new Las Vegas 51s (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) ballpark in Summerlin.
But it’s more than just a naming-rights deal for Las Vegas Ballpark. It also gives the LVCVA rights to put on as many as 100 events annually in the $150-million facility, as well as two Major League Baseball spring-training exhibitions and two other MLB exhibitions. (The Chicago Cubs have been playing an annual spring-training series in Cashman Field, with two games scheduled last season and everyone expecting two more this coming spring.) It also allows the LVCVA to close down the money-losing Cashman Field, the team’s current home, and save almost half the amount of the deal by ending ballpark subsidies. It’s a marketing deal for the LVCVA–central to the authority’s mission.
The deal is the richest one in Minor League Baseball. Deadspin predictably reacted with some ill-informed ranting. Yahoo Sports followed with an even less-informed piece that argued local taxpayers will be paying for the naming-rights deal.
But both show a basic ignorance of LVCVA as a public-private partnership/state agency and where it receives funds. It is not funded by local taxpayers; the annual budget ($367 million in 2018) is funded by room taxes, gaming fees and profits on big events like the Consumer Electronics Show via the management of the Las Vegas Convention Center. It’s an incredibly important player in the local regional economy, one that relies on out-of-town funding and not local taxpayer support.
Which is why locals have not objected to the ballpark deal. The Las Vegas Review-Journal — certainly no fan of the LVCVA — went out looking for local government officials opposing the deal and came up empty:
The issue hasn’t attracted public criticism among state legislators. The Review-Journal contacted all state legislators and only heard back from a few who said they weren’t familiar enough with the issue to comment. Most didn’t respond to emails for comment about the agency’s practices.
Two county commissioners — also Democratic governor candidates — had no criticism of the deal.
Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said he was told that the LVCVA was paying more to use the aging Cashman Field.
“From a business point of view if that’s the case it (the naming rights deal) makes a lot of sense,” he said. “They basically cut their losses.”
It’s rare that funding for a new MiLB ballpark doesn’t generate any local opposition. But it appears to be the case in Las Vegas.
Rendering courtesy HOK.
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