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Audit: Hotel tax netted nearly $58M for New Orleans stadium improvements

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(The Center Square) — An audit of the Louisiana Stadium & Exposition District found it received $5.5 million less in hotel tax revenue in New Orleans in 2023 than it did during the year before.

The report by Louisiana Legislative auditor Mike Waguespack says the drop “reflects a one-time settlement payment received in 2022 offset by quarterly settlement payments received in 2023.”

The report also says more than $27.2 million of the nearly $58 million in hotel tax revenue in 2023 was dedicated to retiring the district’s debt.

The district is a state-chartered commission with its seven commissioners appointed by and serving at the pleasure of the governor to manage some of New Orleans’ sports facilities, including Caesars Superdome (home of the NFL’s Saints which have a lease that expires in 2030). The commission also manages the Saints’ training facility and the Smoothie King Center (home of the NBA’s Pelicans) among other facilities.

The district also receives other state revenues such as vehicle license plate royalties, state appropriations, income taxes from out-of-state players that play at the district’s facilities and slot revenue at the Fairgrounds Racetrack in New Orleans.

In 2022, those statutory dedications from the income taxes and slots added up to nearly $17.2 million. Lawmakers predicted $18.2 million in revenue for this fiscal year.

Those revenues included $11 million from the state’s New Orleans Sports Franchise Fund, $2.05 million from slot machines, $6.15 million from taxes paid by players and nearly $6.9 million in interest income.

District revenues were up $79 million at $107.6 million compared to the year before as the state has poured more taxpayer funds to the now-$500 million Caesars Superdome renovation project. The report said the district had more than $254.5 million in construction in progress on the project for the nearly 50-year old structure.

According to the report, the district has liabilities of $672.6 million, a nearly 10% increase from last year ($607.8 million), with most of this coming due to costs for the capital improvements in the district, primarily for Caesars Superdome.