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September 23, 2014

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Negotiations extended for UNLV stadium project

Click to enlarge photo

Renderings of a proposed stadium on the UNLV campus.

The public-private partners pushing for a multibillion-dollar stadium at UNLV received a 180-day extension to develop a plan to build it without a special tax district to fund construction.

The Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents approved on Thursday the extension of an exclusive negotiating agreement between UNLV and Majestic Realty to develop the $2 billion project — an open-air stadium, dorms and retail space — on the southern end of the university’s Maryland Parkway campus.

The vote passed with one nay vote from Regent Mark Alden, who took issue with the exclusive nature of the agreement, because the project involves 40 acres of public land.

The extension would help the university and its stadium partner Majestic Realty — headed by Los Angeles developer Ed Roski and Silverton resort President Craig Cavileer — evaluate alternative funding sources for the project after it failed to receive public financing through the creation of a special tax district.

“We’re still bullish on the project,” UNLV President Neal Smatresk said.

Developers are now looking at alternative funding sources, including debt financing, sponsorships and naming rights to help fund the stadium’s construction. Stadium proponents, however, aren’t taking public financing off the table until a market analysis, financial models and master plan is developed, Smatresk said.

The Board of Regents is expected to hear a final funding proposal and interim progress update during a two-day meeting May 31 to June 1.

Since the legislative failure to secure the tax district, the stadium proposal has changed in scope.

Developers are now looking to build a 50,000-seat open-air stadium instead of a 60,000-seat open-air stadium proposed three months ago or a 40,000-seat domed stadium proposed when the project was announced nearly a year ago, Smatresk said Thursday.

Instead of more than 10,000 units of student housing, developers are now looking at building between 3,000 and 5,000 units, developers said in September.

Construction on the project — expected to start in 2013 — will be done in phases, with the stadium coming first. Renovating the Thomas & Mack Center and building out 600,000 square feet of retail space would come later, Cavileer said.

“Our enthusiasm for this project is as strong as ever,” he said. “(The legislative decision) didn’t change our vision or energy...This is a big vision and it won’t happen overnight.”

University officials and developers remained adamant the project wouldn’t use any academic dollars.

The university received $75,000 from Majestic Realty to pay for legal fees and a consultant to develop a funding proposal for the project. The university has $12,000 left of that money, which is expected to run out soon.

Mark Rosentraub — an endowed University of Michigan professor of sports management — was recently brought onto the project. The consultant collaborated with Majestic Realty to develop the Staples Center in Los Angeles and is working on new arenas in Edmonton and Hamilton in Canada. Majestic Realty is part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Kings.

“There is no competitive product in this community,” Rosentraub said, adding that Las Vegas needs a stadium, not arenas, to help revitalize its economy.

Several stadium proposals have been raised in the past year, including one on the Strip and in downtown.

The competition, however, has dwindled to one other project on federal land in Henderson. In September, the Henderson City Council unanimously approved a funding study for a $1.3 billion, 17,500-seat arena and a 25,000-seat open-air stadium to be built near the M Resort.

Cavileer acknowledges a sense of urgency in building a stadium at UNLV first. Las Vegas doesn’t need two stadiums, he said. He hopes the UNLV stadium project would bring more recognition to the university and create a more cohesive sense of community on campus.

“Our No. 1 mission is to transform this campus into a world-class university,” he said. “Our community needs to come together for this campus.”

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  1. Lets get this rolling so we can grow UNLV and then get into the PAC-12!

  2. I am still holding out hope over hope. If the community is truly interested in seeing the University reach that next level of recognition, a sports stadium is one avenue. YES, I know that a University should be known for it's academics and UNLV is making great strides in that realm. But, just like in life, one needs to be well rounded. No one likes the person who is only a 'jock' and shows no sensibility when it comes to life nor does one want a 'bookworm' who knows nothing outside the world of academia. UNLV and our community needs to find that balance between that which we are and that which we can become. We are a young University with great potential and we can be a great west coast learning institution with great academics and grow our list of top 25 sport teams; see Runnin' Rebels, Golf program, Swimming and Diving program and soon the Hustlin' Rebel Baseball program. Like I said, hope over hope!