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November 27, 2014

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Mayor hints at plans for professional team moving to Las Vegas

Goodman won’t say which sport, but says ‘discussions’ taking place Monday

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Oscar Goodman

Could a major league baseball team be looking over Las Vegas? Flashing a wily smile, Mayor Oscar Goodman wouldn't say, but hinted as much today.

At his weekly press conference, Goodman indicated talks are under way with developers who are interested "in other areas in other sports" that wouldn't interfere with plans for a professional basketball arena to be built on the existing City Hall property at Fourth Street and Stewart Avenue.

Asked which other professional sports, the mayor said, "Well, I think there are only two other sports. That's all I can tell you."

Then asked if Las Vegas residents could look forward to getting an NFL football team here, Goodman said, "I don't think football. So now we're down to one."

Goodman said he has already been having discussions about bringing a professional sports team here that isn't football or basketball.

"I've had two meetings so far. I'll have another meeting on Monday morning," he said.

The revelation came when Goodman was asked what's become a routine question at his weekly meetings with the media — what's the latest on his efforts to get a professional sports arena downtown?

"We're going round and round and round," Goodman said. "And I think that discussion is going to take place tomorrow between the city manager and some folks to find out whether it's realistic to expect that it's going to be built in the foreseeable future."

The city currently has an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Cordish Company, a Baltimore-based developer.

In November, Cordish entered a two-year contract with the city to look into the feasibility of building a sports arena, an entertainment district and a casino-hotel on about 20 acres split between two sites at Las Vegas Boulevard and Stewart Avenue.

Cordish is to look into building a casino/hotel on the 7.75 acres that is now the site of City Hall and the Stewart Avenue Parking Garage. A new city hall complex is currently under construction at the corner of First Street and Lewis Avenue.

On the site just east of the existing City Hall, the company will check into the feasibility of an arena with at least 18,000 seats and an entertainment district that would include retail shops, restaurants and bars.

The agreement calls for Cordish to determine the economic viability of an arena, including seeing if public financing is available. Cordish would look into recruiting an NBA or NHL team and an arena operator.

Goodman said when he went to Baltimore recently to meet with Cordish officials, he was under the impression that the city and Cordish were in agreement on some issues.

"Maybe my impression was a mis-impression," he said. "That's why the city manager will be following up with them."

Last month, Goodman said the city and Cordish have not yet agreed on a price tag for the arena, which he has said would need to be paid for in part with a public bond issue.

The mayor said that under contractual obligations the city has with Cordish, he can't begin discussions with any other developers about a sports arena on the 20 acres on and adjacent to city hall.

"I have had people express interest that they want to talk to me about it but they feel that they could build it," Goodman said. "But right now, we have to stand by our commitment, our contractual commitment."

Goodman wouldn't say what other specific area might be considered for an additional sports facility. However, he has indicated that he thought the 6.5 acres on Parcel P-Q on the north side of the publicly owned Symphony Park would be a good location for a sports arena.

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