If you can’t win an argument based on facts and figures and dollar and cents — such as population, media market, median income — pluck vagaries out of thin air and pretend they have substance. That’s the ticket.
And that’s why the newspaper owned by the man who wants to build a domed football stadium in Las Vegas to attract the Oakland Raiders has an online banner headline that reads: “Intangibles make Las Vegas competitive for NFL franchise, analysts say.”
The print version headline reads: “Vegas’ NFL allure nontraditional: Numbers alone don’t do justice to strength of Southern Nevada.”
You know, intangibles — something that cannot be easily defined, formulated, or grasped; vague.
It’s like putting gold on one side of the scale and pretending it is not your thumb on the other side but some intangible that tips the scale.
The story dutifully notes the facts in the lede. The Oakland area population is more than double that of Las Vegas. The median household income the Bay Area is nearly double that in Las Vegas. The media market there is the sixth largest in the nation, while Las Vegas’ is 40th.
“In short, it’s the intangibles that Las Vegas can offer, marketing experts say,” says the newspaper account as it segues from facts to wishful speculation, grasping at wispy straws.
The ubiquitous Jeremy Aguero of Applied Analysis, the outfit that crunched stadium numbers for the tourism panel and the lawmakers who agreed to shell out $750 million in tax money for the project, was quoted as saying, “From a statistical standpoint, Las Vegas has a tendency to be wildly misunderstood, because there’s no place like it.”
He later acknowledged that the Las Vegas market has its weaknesses, but apparently those were not worthy of mentioning.
As for those intangibles, Aguero told the newspaper, “It’s a 24-hour town, so one-third of our people may be working at any given time.” And unable to attend a football game, especially on weekends, even if their paltry salaries made tickets affordable?
“There are a lot of other entertainment opportunities,” he also related. All competing for that limited disposable income?
“How is our economy evolving? We’re becoming more diverse, so that’s a good thing,” he said. But an intangible?
The ever-present disclaimer at the bottom of the story informs the reader: “The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson, which is contributing $650 million to building the new stadium.” Perhaps that should state that he has said he would contribute $650 million, since I don’t think he has put that in writing anywhere.
In fact, remember that this stadium started out as a mere $1 billion project but has blossomed to $1.9 billion — the storyline is that public tax money via a room tax would cover $750 million of the cost, while the Adelson family would cover $650 million and the NFL and the Raiders would cover $500 million.
So why is it that the stadium backers absolutely refused to consider a codicil to the agreement that would cap the public money portion at 39 percent, calling that a deal killer? Also, anything less than $750 million from the public trough was a deal killer? If the project came in under that pie-in-sky $1.9 billion, would Adelson just keep his promised $650 million? Or is that an intangible?