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July 25, 2014

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Mayor: Downtown Las Vegas sports arena ‘very viable’

Developers considering Symphony Park for arena and entertainment district

Las Vegas could find out within two weeks whether a top-of-the-line sports arena will be built in the city's downtown, says Mayor Oscar Goodman.

"Things are happening and they're happening very rapidly and hopefully we'll have some major announcements," Goodman said Thursday at his weekly press conference. "That's as far as I can go."

The mayor said he planned to have a follow-up telephone conversation Friday with officials from the Cordish Companies Inc., the city's downtown developer.

Goodman traveled to Baltimore to meet with developer Blake Cordish two weeks ago to find out face to face what the developer has done since entering last 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.

At that meeting, he found they were continuing to analyze the finances, locations and the scope of the project. For example, they have looked at building an arena and an entertainment complex, an entertainment complex by itself and an arena by itself.

"It's still very viable," Goodman said. "We're talking about, perhaps, a different location for it. Instead of the 13 acres across the street from city hall, we're perhaps, thinking in terms of Symphony Park."

He said he was hoping that discussions were taking place between Cordish and two other Symphony Park developers, LiveWork Las Vegas and Forest City Enterprises, concerning the 6.5-acre "Parcel P-Q," located on the north side of the park, which had been valued at $40 million.

Forest City's plans for the P-Q area had been for a 47-story hotel/casino casino.

"Forest City has the rights to it," Goodman said. "So if we're going to go there (with the arena) there has to be some kind of a deal worked out between Cordish and with Forest City."

Although Symphony Park is publicly owned land, Goodman said he wasn't at liberty to say why Cordish was more interested in moving the arena site to Symphony Park.

When pressed for a timetable as when Cordish might make an announcement, he said "within two weeks."

Asked why he liked the Symphony Park location better, Goodman indicated it was because of the mixed public uses at the park (formerly called Union Park), which will include the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, the Ruvo Brain Institute and a new city hall.

"I look at it as a complex for the ages," Goodman said.

Goodman said an entertainment district in Symphony Park was "a lot more feasible than the arena, with the complexities of what kind of public funding would have to go into it."

The mayor said there is probably not enough room for an arena, an entertainment district and a hotel/casino on Parcel P-Q.

However, he said the city does have the option to build on some adjacent Symphony Park property that was to be used by developer Robert Zarnegin for a key world jewelry industry hub, a development that was put on hold last summer.

"But that does not mean I want to dissuade him (Zarnegin) from going forward on the jewelry mart, because I think that's a great project," Goodman said. "It's just not the right time. People aren't buying jewelry."

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