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If We Build It, Will They Come?
If We Build It, Will They Come?

AIR DATE: May 28, 2010

If you build it, they will come. That's the oft-repeated mantra of a slew companies, all of whom want to build a new arena in Las Vegas.

The county commission and city of Las Vegas are currently in separate talks with five different companies on building a new pro sports arena in Las Vegas.

Will a new arena bring a professional sports franchise to Las Vegas? And is a public-private financing model best for a Las Vegas considering flat visitor numbers and continuously falling tax revenue?

Smith College economist Andrew Zimbalist joins us to discuss the proposals.

Andrew Zimbalist, Robert A. Woods Prof of Economics, Smith College
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    If a stadium was a such good business venture, the team owners would be willing to put their own money at risk just like most other private companies do every day of the year. Of course, a stadium isn't a good business -- as evidenced by the simple fact that they are NOT willing to take all of the investment risk -- so they plan to essentially steal from taxpayers to fill their pockets to make an otherwise unprofitable business profitable.
    TomJun 3, 2010 18:49:19 PM
    I was also disappointed no calls were taken. It would have been far more beneficial to have an economist familiar with if not from Nevada to speak about the impact of the proposed arenas on our economy. A Las Vegan can tell you night life starts around 10pm and that might be considered early by some. Most sporting events start between 6pm and 8pm. We WILL lose the Rodeo and who knows what other events that bring people to Las Vegas if we don't do something about it. A Las Vegan can tell you our city pops with excitement and revenue is up when the rodeo is in town. We don't want to loose this; after all, we are supposed to be the entertainment capital of the world! All of the arena plans will require funds from taxes; the difference is whether it is from MY property taxes or from a .8% increase on tourist sales tax. I strongly doubt guests to our fair city will choose not have dinner at Table 10 or Mesa Grill when they see they've been charge an additional dollar or two for their stay.
    Proud LocalJun 3, 2010 09:35:01 AM
    Thanks for writing, Mike. As you surmised, that interview was pre-recorded. I have no doubt we'll be doing quite a bit more with this issue, especially as the jockeying gets more intense among the five entities trying to close the deal, and no doubt we'll also make plenty of room for listener input.
    Dave (Producer/Host)Jun 3, 2010 09:34:22 AM
    I was very dissapointed that KNPR chose to not take any calls during the discussion about the merits of building a new arena in Las Vegas -- and for what? To talk about a musical? While I enjoy musicals as much as anyone, the arena conversation -- with its serious financial ramifications -- can't be seriously considered by anyone as being secondary to a conversation about something playing at the Onyx (with no offense intended to the Onyx or to the musical's producers or cast and crew). This was a very poor showing on KNPR's part -- was the program pre-recorded?
    MikeJun 3, 2010 09:32:56 AM
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