By ALAN SNEL
It would be a good stadium subsidy debate to see Las Vegas Events President Pat Christenson and national academic economists go toe-to-toe about whether public dollars should be earmarked to help build stadiums.
But Christenson does make one strong case on the topic in Las Vegas. He said major sports and music events such as an NCAA basketball Final Four or a Beyonce concert will not give Las Vegas a sniff because Sam Boyd Stadium is too small and there’s not an NFL-sized stadium such as the 65,000-seat domed Raiders stadium that is planned to open in Las Vegas in 2020.
“The top destination in the world does not compete for major stadium events. Why? Because Las Vegas does not have a competitive stadium stadium,” Christenson wrote in a chapter that didn’t make his new book, “Rock Vegas: Live Music Explodes in Neon Desert.”
Christenson, 62, who oversees Las Vegas Events, the convention authority’s events promotion arm, gave the unpublished book chapter to LVSportsBiz.com because it made a case for the $750 million public subsidy for the Raiders’ new stadium that is slated to be built on the west side of I-15 at Russell Road and Polaris Avenue.
Christenson’s book focuses on Las Vegas emerging as a national live music powerhouse, but he touched on the stadium issue because the venue can attract big-time concerts in addition to sports events.
Christenson said he does not have a crystal ball, so he does not know how many new major events will come to Las Vegas because of the new stadium starting in 2020.
But he did say the events already here at Sam Boyd Stadium such as USA Sevens international rugby and Supercross motorcycle races will at least be able to sell more tickets because of the bigger Raiders stadium.
And now Las Vegas can at least compete for hosting a national college football championship, conference college football championship games, international soccer matches, and major concerts by musicians who would not have otherwise considered Vegas, he said.
“In 2016, Las Vegas attracted over 2.3 million live music visitors. However, it did not have an opportunity to host Beyonce because she only played stadiums,” wrote Christenson, former director of Thomas & Mack Center and Sam Boyd Stadium when it was called the Las Vegas Silver Bowl.
Christenson’s chapter also has some interesting visitor spending nuggets. For example, he cited the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and said a visitor to Las Vegas in 2015 spent an average of $857.
Visitors who attended special events spent more, he wrote. Again, citing the LVCVA stats, Christenson listed the average spending amounts for various events:
— National Finals Rodeo visitor, $2,320.
— R&R Marathon visitor, $1,420.
— College basketball tournaments’ fan, $1,460
— NASCAR race fan, $1,390.
— Electric Daisy Carnival visitor, $1,390
— Life is Beautiful visitor, $1,194.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com