Taxpayer money should be spent on public services — not stadiums, says Las Vegas Knights owner Bill Foley

  • "We can better spend that money on firefighters, teachers, and policeman," he told CNBC's "Power Lunch" on Wednesday.
  • However, the GOP's new tax plan allows pro sports leagues to continue using tax-exempt municipal bonds to fund stadiums.

In its bid to lure the NFL's Raiders from Oakland, Las Vegas earlier this year ponied up a $750 million taxpayer subsidy for the $1.9 billion relocation — a move that stirred controversy and renewed the debate about public financing of sports venues.

Yet if it were up to the owner of the city's new hockey team, the Golden Knights, taxpayer money wouldn't be spent on building sports stadiums at all.

"We can better spend that money on firefighters, teachers, and policeman," Bill Foley told CNBC's "Power Lunch" in a recent interview. "Let's have the best of that as opposed to building the big stadium."

The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, home of the Vegas Golden Knights.
George Rose | Getty Images
The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, home of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Unlike the Raiders stadium, the $375 million T-Mobile Arena on the Vegas Strip, now home to the Golden Knights, was funded entirely by MGM Resorts International and Anschutz Entertainment Group. Meanwhile, T-Mobile is paying millions a year for the naming rights, a fact about which Foley expressed some pride.

"We had no tax payer funded dollars," he told CNBC.

Foley, however, chided the GOP's new tax plan. A provision in the new law allows pro sports leagues and team owners to continue using tax-exempt municipal bonds to fund projects like sports stadium construction and renovation.

That could benefit projects like the NFL's deal to send the Raiders to Las Vegas, where a new stadium for the team is currently under construction.