Ronald Reagan said during a 1980 primary debate in New Hampshire, “I am paying for this microphone.”
Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson is paying for his microphone, which happens to be a front-page printed news story in the Las Vegas newspaper today and the lede position of the paper’s website for the dissemination of his “statement” calling on fellow casino executive MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren to support his proposed football stadium, apparently along with a big chunk of public funding. The current request stands at $750 million via room tax rate hikes.
The obligatory disclaimer at the end of the story reveals: “The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.”
The R-J dutifully reported this morning, “Murren declined to respond to Adelson’s comments Monday, but Murren is on record as favoring the stadium if less public money is contributed to the project.” The Adelson statement reportedly disputes what it describes as “Murren’s position” — that a convention center expansion is a “must-have” tourism addition, while a stadium would be merely “nice to have.”
The Oakland Raiders have expressed an interest in relocating to Las Vegas if a stadium is built.
But, as Mark Twain is incorrectly credited with saying, “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed,” only in this case you have to read two newspapers to be fully misinformed.
You see, delivered in the same bag on the driveway today is the Las Vegas Sun section, which happens to have a front-page story on how Murren views a number of topics, including the proposed stadium. The piece was actually posted online this past Friday, but not deemed worthy of print until today.
The article recounts:
Murren said that, as a football fan, he would love to see an NFL team in Las Vegas and that some level of public funding is appropriate. However, he said he doesn’t have enough information to be able to say what that level should be — the cost of the stadium, other infrastructure costs, how the capital will be pulled together, or what the burden is on the taxpayer.
“Without all that information it’s difficult to say I’m a big fan,” Murren said.
Plus, he said that he chafes at the suggestion that the public wouldn’t be paying for the stadium by virtue of tourists covering the room tax, since a significant chunk of the money goes toward education as well as other funds across the state.
The paper said Murren supports a special session of the state Legislature to approve a room tax hike to pay for the convention center expansion. He also was quoted as saying he does not want to raise the room tax so much that it becomes a disadvantage in competing with other cities for conventions.
In December, as Adelson was taking control of the newspaper, the R-J published an editorial explaining how his ownership might alter some of the newspaper’s long-standing editorial positions. It included this observation about the convention center expansion plans:
Mr. Adelson considers the convention authority, which is funded by room taxes and operates the Las Vegas Convention Center, a publicly subsidized competitor to his company’s Sands Expo and Convention Center. His company opposes the authority’s $2.3 billion convention center expansion plan. The Review-Journal supports it.
Potential change in position: Complete reversal.
Looks like the battle of the casino titans will be played out on the microphones each chooses.