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Las Vegas NFL stadium plan unanimously approved by committee, heads to governor

Raiders Fans and construction jobs supporters celebrate following the unanimous approval of a funding plan for an NFL stadium in Las Vegas. The plan now heads to Governor Brian Sandoval for final approval. 9/15/16 (Chad Graves | KSNV)

An oversight committee is recommending Nevada put $750 million in public money toward an NFL stadium for the Raiders in Las Vegas. The money would come from room tax. The preferred site, off Russell Road and I-15.

The approval Thursday from the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee is a major victory for the plan, which still needs approval from the governor and Legislature.

The state hopes it's enough to lure the Oakland Raiders to the desert. The team says they want to be a part of Las Vegas life, and Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands wants to help them make it happen.

Adelson is ponying up $650 million of his own money for the $1.9 billion stadium. The Raiders would pitch in $500 million if the deal gets Governor Sandoval's approval.

"I think this is one of the most exciting days, I think, in the history of Las Vegas. We're on the verge of having an NFL franchise," said Andy Abboud with Sands. "I think this is a great deal for the public because let's remember this is gonna be a stadium paid for almost entirely by tourists and by the private sector."

Outside Thursday's meeting, there was tailgating. Construction workers wearing their black and silver excited about the future.

"Work, work, work out of this. First construction. People working in the stadium, and all the businesses around it. It's a three domino effect. Everyone's going to work," said Mike Dasilva.

The committee estimates almost 19,000 jobs will come from the construction of the stadium.

The governor will call a special session and lawmakers will consider the tax hike, not only for the stadium but for a $1.5 billion convention center expansion.

The Sands Corporation isn't worried.

"We're confident that we have the two-thirds votes. We've been actively working with the leadership of both parties," said Abboud.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval issued this statement:

“I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the members of the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee and its Technical Advisory Council for their tireless efforts and dedication to completing the recently approved recommendations. I would especially like to thank Director Steve Hill for his leadership and perseverance in ensuring Nevada’s best interests were always the top priority in this process. I will begin my review of the Committee’s recommendations and will also begin discussions with legislative leadership, local stakeholders, and my cabinet to clarify any outstanding questions. I will not move forward until all questions have been resolved.

"More than one year ago, I signed an Executive Order bringing together many of the brightest minds in gaming and hospitality as well as community leaders in an effort to identify the untapped potential and unfulfilled demands in the Southern Nevada tourism industry. Nevada has served as the standard bearer for global tourism, gaming, and conventions for decades. In order to remain the top destination, we must explore potential opportunities and push forward to lead this international industry into the next generation of travel and tourism. I am hopeful the work completed by this committee will serve as a roadmap to Southern Nevada’s unrivaled and continued success.”

Stadium proponents including the Las Vegas Sands don't want to return any profits to the public because they say they'll make little or no money on the 65,000-seat stadium.

Proponents want state lawmakers to meet and approve the deal as soon as possible so they can pitch it to NFL owners. Three-quarters of owners must approve of any team relocation.

RELATED | First Raiders stadium vote could take place Thursday

They're expected to meet in January.

Meanwhile, Oakland's Mayor, Libby Schaaf, posted about the committee decision on Facebook saying in part, "While Nevada lawmakers consider making the largest public investment in a private stadium deal in history bu approving a $750 million public subsidy for a facility in Las Vegas, I will continue to work with the NFL and the Raiders' designee Larry McNeil to iron out a deal that works for the team, the league, the fans and the taxpayers in Oakland."

She isn't the only one with doubts. Critics, including the powerful culinary union say the public money should be spent on other things. The governor says he will review the recommendations.

Clark County Commissioner Chris Guichigliani was a lone voice of dissent at Thursday's meeting.

"It does not pencil out for public benefit. And the economic development factor gets touted but it's never been proved out in any of the research that's been done," she said.

Economics Professor at the University of Georgia and contributor to Forbes Jeffrey Dorfman is also critical of the deal.

Dorfman spoke to News 3 from his home in Georgia shortly after the deal was approved. His criticism comes from the return on investment for taxpayers.

“In most cases, the public gets virtually nothing,” Dorfman told us.

The Professor went on to explain that tax revenue is generated from tourists visiting on game weekends so that has to be the emphasis if the County wants to get their return on tax investment

Fellow commissioner Steve Sisolak said taxpayers will be protected.

"We're gonna have a debt service fund to cover two years worth of payments, which is an enormous debt service," he said.

But will the NFL allow the league's most storied teams move? Only time will tell.

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