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Events center ground breaking today

A proposed indoor events center is seen in this artist's rendering. The estimated cost for the building in Stateline is $100 million.
Economic & Planning Systems Inc.

Even as construction begins on a new events center located at Stateline, work on a ballot question about one of its key funding sources is underway.

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. today at MontBleu Resort Casino.

An hour-long program will include comments from dignitaries standing at social distance near the marquee on the property donated by Edgewood Companies.

The 132,000-square-foot center will be christened by celebrity guests in Stateline for the American Century Championship.

Behind the scenes, committees have been working on arguments for and against eliminating the redevelopment district that is expected to pay a third of the center’s cost.

According to a calendar issued by Clerk-Treasurer Kathy Lewis, committees on either side of a ballot question completed their arguments before the Fourth of July weekend. She is scheduled to transmit those arguments to the opposite committees so they can prepare rebuttals.

The redevelopment district was the subject of a petition that was successful in putting the question on the ballot.

In May, Douglas County commissioners voted 3-2 to commit $1.3 million a year to the construction of the events center. The $80 million center is expected to be complete by 2022.

Should voters reject the redevelopment area, which raises money based on increased property values in Stateline, the county would still be obligated to pay the money.

Bond counsel NHA Advisors’ Mark Northcross told county commissioners in March that redevelopment money is required to shore up funds raised by the casinos through a new $5 room tax, should something like the Great Recession occur.

About three weeks after Northcross spoke, all of Nevada’s casinos were shuttered by the coronavirus outbreak.

“If you look at the boom economy there’s more than $7 million, so why do you need the tax increment?” he said. “Bond investors are conservative and look at the worst possible case. The Great Recession and Indian gaming really hammered the casino core.”

He said revenues dropped to $5.8 million during the Recession, below the $7 million threshold.

“From a standpoint of selling bonds for the events center, if something like the Great Recession repeated, this tax increment brings us up beyond the worst-case scenario.”

Northcross said that with the events center, the number of room nights in the Stateline casino core will go up, with actual revenues increasing $7-9 million. Without it, he said analysis showed annual revenue would decline by about $400,000.

Because the Stateline casinos are assessed based on their revenues, that means the less money they make, the less money is collected by the county.

Petitioners argued the events center should be built with private money and that the tax increment raised at Lake Tahoe should go into coffers of the county and other tax entities in Stateline.