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November 23, 2014

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Mayor to meet with developers about downtown arena

Goodman: City could be ‘last man standing’ among competing arena projects

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Dave Toplikar

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman recognizes local hockey player Jason Zucker today at the mayor’s weekly press conference at city hall. Zucker, who grew up in Las Vegas and attended Bonanza High School, has been a key player on the U.S. National Under-17 hockey team, and is the first Nevadan to play in the national program.

Jason Zucker

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman recognized local hockey player Jason Zucker  today at the mayor's weekly press conference at city hall. Zucker, who grew up in Las Vegas and attended Bonanza High School, has been a key player on the U.S. National Under-17 hockey team, and is the first Nevadan to play in the national program. Launch slideshow »

While at least one effort to build a new sports arena on the Las Vegas Strip has stalled out, Mayor Oscar Goodman is holding out hope that a top-of-the-line sports arena can still be built downtown to lure professional hockey or basketball teams.

"Not just a box. First-class, something that could compete with anything in the world, because we're number one, " Goodman told reporters today at his weekly press conference.

Goodman plans to meet Friday in Baltimore with officials from the Cordish Companies Inc., the city's downtown developer.

Cordish, which is known for its sports developments around the country, entered in November into an exclusive two-year negotiation agreement with the city council to see if a sports arena, an entertainment district and a new hotel-casino are feasible for downtown.

Goodman says he prefers the area be built in Parcel P-Q in the northern end of Symphony Park. Another site is on 13 acres the city owns east of the existing city hall at Fourth and Stewart.

"Hopefully we'll have some kind of a definitive statement to make, if and when we're going forward on the downtown arena project," Goodman said.

The mayor said he read in this Sun this morning and had also spoken with Clark County Commission members about the status of the three other proposed arena sites.

"It looks like at least one of those projects that made a presentation to the county commission has gone by the wayside," Goodman said. "And I hear that another may be teetering. So maybe we will be last man standing and be able to sail through and have a wonderful arena in our downtown."

Goodman said his plan to travel to Baltimore to meet in person with Cordish representatives shouldn't be misinterpreted that some kind of an announcement is imminent.

"I'm having a meeting about it, face-to-face, in person. I do better in person than on the phone," Goodman said. "I like to look at somebody in the eye and find out if our discussions are getting any place or whether we're just treading water. . . I'll be able to tell you whether it's real."

Under the city's agreement with Cordish, the company is looking into building a casino/hotel on the 7.75 acres that is now the site of City Hall and the Stewart Avenue Parking Garage.

On the site just east of city hall, the company is to 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.

Cordish would also develop a strategy for getting tenants for what it calls a "Live District" and for the casino/hotel. It would set up business terms for acquiring and developing the two sites.

The company would work on a viable financing plan, using a combination of public and private funds for the Live District and hotel/casino.

Goodman said he has noticed some smaller business projects under way in the downtown.

"I think it shows the economy is coming back," he said. "... I think a lot of people are showing they want it to come back, and they're doing their fair share. We give certain incentives to make it more attractive to open up in the downtown and I think people are taking advantage of it."

He said he believed that much more activity is coming about in the downtown.

"That's one of the reasons I'm going back to speak to Cordish to make sure that everybody's on the same page as to what's happening," he said.

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