Rebels Athletics:

UNLV athletic department sees on-campus stadium as a game-changer

Centerpiece of 150-acre development would be 40,000-seat, multipurpose event center

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Sam Morris

UNLV football coach Bobby Hauck gives his reaction to the media after a preview of a proposed on-campus, multi-use stadium for UNLV on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011.

Proposed UNLV Stadium

Invited guests look over conceptual renderings during a preview of a proposed on-campus, multi-use stadium for UNLV on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011. Launch slideshow »

KSNV: Proposed stadium

KSNV coverage of proposed domed stadium for Las Vegas, Feb. 1, 2011.

Proposed UNLV stadium

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Proposed location

Right now, it's all artist renderings, talk and visualization.

If and when a new mixed-use development on the UNLV campus, including a multi-purpose domed stadium, gets built is still the great unknown.

But during a presentation and press conference Tuesday at the Silverton Casino Lodge, imaginations ran wild as the proposed layout was unveiled in front of a crowd filled with UNLV administrators, athletic department personnel, the general public and several other parties of interest.

The plan will be discussed with the Nevada Board of Regents during a meeting on Feb. 11, and if a memorandum of understanding is approved, Majestic Realty Co. and its team would move forward, developing timelines, phasing agreements and construction schedules for the project.

Discussing the thinking behind the development on Tuesday were Ed Roski — chairman and CEO of Majestic Realty and owner of the Silverton — and Silverton president Craig Cavileer.

During Cavileer's presentation, he spoke of his inspiration coming from the time he spent in Austin, Texas, citing how the community's common bond was the University of Texas and Longhorns athletics.

According to UNLV athletics director Jim Livengood, talks for the project began seriously heating up in the late summer and early fall.

The new development would span 150 acres, and include 600,000 square feet of retail shopping, restaurants and student residences. The centerpiece would be the 40,000-seat event center to go with several parking facilities nearby and a renovation of the nearly 30-year-old Thomas & Mack Center.

UNLV athletics officials on hand said they look at it not as just a boost for their department and brand, but as a potential game-changer for the university as a whole.

"This would be a huge step forward for both our university and our football program," second-year Rebels football coach Bobby Hauck said. "This has a chance to transform our school. It would aid us in transitioning from what's perceived as a commuter university into a big-time place.

"Usually, people who do great things aren't small thinkers. These guys certainly are not small-thinking. They see the big picture, and again, you're not just building a building or a structure. It's an opportunity, and if you don't seize opportunities, sometimes they go (away)."

The goal of the entire project was presented as bringing more of a true college campus feel to UNLV, and that starts with getting more students to live on campus. Currently, very few do, dispersing into Henderson, Summerlin and elsewhere in the valley.

"We think we'll be able to take UNLV and build it into that (University of Texas) or Michigan kind of category," UNLV president Neal Smatresk said. "I really think this is uniquely suitable for Las Vegas, and this is the right time and right place."

Among the renderings on display where diagrams of how the stadium layout would look for several events. Many eyes were looking at the basketball setup.

Cavileer hinted that the proposed building could be the new home to UNLV men's basketball, with the arena being condensed down to 20,000 seats for Rebels games, while the refurbished Mack could still be put to use on conflicting dates.

He said the construction of the stadium is not contingent on lining up a pro sports franchise as a primary resident, but that it could accommodate one.

UNLV hoops coach Lon Kruger, also in attendance, liked what he saw. A shiny new home for games would fit in nicely alongside the Mendenhall Center, which is the program's new practice facility under construction in front of the Cox Pavilion.

"It's not a highly residential campus, and we're talking about going from maybe one extreme to the other," he said. "When you talk about that, I don't even see the buildings. I see the activity on campus on just a normal college day.

"(The Mack) is 27 years old, and it's a great facility for being 27 years old. But anytime you do something 30 years later, you can imagine doing it much bigger, much better, much brighter, much more appealing. Certainly, that's what this building would do. And that's certainly not a knock on the Thomas & Mack. It's great and has been great, but progress is about change."

However, for all of the optimism on display Tuesday, there were several questions hanging over the crowd that just couldn't be answered completely in this preliminary stage.

• How much, if any, public money would be needed to complete the venture?

• What would happen to Sam Boyd Stadium if this comes to fruition? And does UNLV's struggling football program really need a new home?

• What kind of traffic headaches would be caused with this, since a piece of the proposed development lies over where Swenson Street currently runs in front of the Mack?

Those questions could gain more steam depending on what happens Feb. 11.

A major motivating factor behind it, though, is protecting the revenue that already comes in from the flexibility that the Mack offers. Another arena in town away from campus could threaten that.

"If another arena is built, I figure we lose somewhere between $3 and $7 million a year instantly, and the impact of that would be devastating on our Division-I sports," Smatresk added. "So what we're saying is we want to keep the business we have and build something that makes sense for our campus and that campus community."

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  1. Well, OF COURSE, the jocks want this. Just stay focused on the university's main mission: education. Don't believe the false promises of revenue finding its way from athletics into academics. It NEVER works that way. Not at Notre Dame, not at Texas, nowhere.
    I love sports, too. But the last thing our squeezed budgets need is to be taking what few dollars are left, and delivering them to bond holders for thirty years, to pay off this boondoggle. Those bonds don't exist now, and LET'S KEEP IT THAT WAY.

  2. No public money should quiet all the whiners who complain about quality of life then complain about paying for it. I actually think this project would be worthy of public support but given this is Vegas they can make money with the tax district (which means tax revenues that are not being generated at all now will go back to the developer in the future to pay off bonds - win/win situation). This is a game changer for the city, not just UNLV, creating a world-class campus that makes it clear we care about our higher education and creating a real urban live/work/learn campus instead of just having one commuter school and a community college in a city of 2 million. We all need to encourage our elected officials and regents to support this project!

  3. DTJ Right on queue... I know your just an angry troll but I will feed you anyway...

    Dude chill... They have not announced one detail regarding financing... Everything is just pure speculation... As of right now it is a bunch of pictures on a wall that someone did with Sketch up and Photoshop... And a few folks together cheering it on... The layers this has to go through to get to breaking ground is mind numbing...

    Regent approval, County approval, months of site survey, FAA approval, etc, and yes even a possible passing of county bonds.... The list is reeeeediculous...

    At least wait to find out the nuts and bolts before p!$$ing on this... It is not worth getting your panties in a bunch about this at this stage...

    The folks that are excited are happy to see something that has some real legs... Not some farce being built on the Wet and Wild graveyard or that awful land behind Harrahs... This has potential to really benefit the University... And again it is all speculation based on just some Photoshop pics...

    So for now it is just time to enjoy something promising happening to the valley... When they come out and say we will need to raid the coffers for this... Then you will see it get shut down very quickly... And that will be that...

    @shawn2724
    I haved lived here 25+ years elementary through graduating UNLV and now have a house here... and I totally think we should be paying more in taxes... Our cost of living is CHEAP compared to other places... I would have no problem with a few tax dollars being pumped into something for the community at large... And yes this would definitely help a public university get better...

  4. Awesome! Can't wait to step foot in the place, it looks great so far! As for Sam Boyd, NFR can be held there and keep the stink out from campus. As far as parking and traffic, that is the single worst argument for just about anything. Shuttle people in via RTC, valet, cab, walk, bike (what a novel idea!). Give something the students can be proud of and future students some nice incentive to visit the gem of the desert. Or listen to people complain about cost and don't look at the revenue stream or opportunity.

  5. DTJ... before you start your "just pandering to the jocks," crap, go online and look up what University President Smatresk said regarding the importance of this project and the possibility of elevating UNLV to a much higher quality university all around. Notice I said University President, not star quarterback, not football coach, not athletic director and not big, dumb jock A.

    Would this new stadium be big deal for UNLV Athletics? OF COURSE it would, but the new stadium is only a small part of what the entire plan is looking at creating. This idea is about creating an actual community on campus, not just more parking for all of the people who drive, park, learn and leave. Honestly, did you even look over the whole thing before you came on here pronouncing this a project for the "jocks?"

    Do yourself a favor: go to espn1100.com and find the audio of Neal Smatresk from the project unveiling today. Listen to what he says the project will mean for the university as a whole. Listen to what he says his primary concerns for UNLV are. Then come back and tell us what you think.

  6. They don't even have an estimate of what is will cost.

  7. Mike Lange,
    "...Before you start your "just pandering to the jocks," crap...did you even look over the whole thing before you came on here pronouncing this a project for the 'jocks?'..."

    And did YOU even read my post? All I said was that "of course, the jocks WANT this." I never stated or implied that this is "pandering to the jocks." I don't believe that. What I DO happen to believe is that a University President is chasing the glory of getting a monumental-sized edifice built during his tenure (as if such a thing has never happened before), and that greedy developers are trying to get the taxpayer to pay for their personal gain.

    Chicken:
    I'm not a troll. I'm very sincere in my opposition to this. As for your overtures to "wait" until we know the details, I'm afraid the battle over public relations has already started. We've had no gatekeepers keeping developers in check, over the last decade or so. And that is precisely why we have empty, unfinished resorts sitting on the strip, other major casinos collapsing into bankruptcy, vacant hi-rises all over downtown, and entire subdivisions to the north and southwest that look like ghost towns. But at least these developers destroyed their own capital(along with our regional economy).

    Now, they want to continue the profiteering and high-stakes flipping of real estate, but with OUR MONEY, our public property, our precious few resources for higher education.

    This is a crucial battle, Chicken. And I'm quite serious, not trolling around. Why don't you join me in the good fight?

  8. No tuition fee increase, no taxpayer money and no diversion of UNLV funds for the arena. UNLV/Clark County can donate the land and they can block off Swenson and use the land, I'm fine with it.

    Another option is to improve the facilities at Sam Boyd. Such a waste of facility.

  9. DTJ:

    It's true the main mission of a university is to educate...but you need to look at the reality of what drives the economics of a university. It's sad but true...it's athletics.

    Here's an example. I'm only speaking for myself and this is my opinion...but even the LDS (Mormon) church realizes that athletics can be a big recruiting tool for both the university and the faith. That's one of many reason why BYU probably has decided to leave the MWC and go independent. By doing that they can further promote the football team through ESPN. Although the mission of BYU is to educate and promote the LDS faith. The church probably realizes that by having a good football team, and getting exposure through ESPN, it will further the cause of both the university and the church. So if UNLV can promote itself through athletics whether it be through football or basketball then so be it. That's why athletics play such a big role at a major university.

  10. Well I, for one, see the tremendous upside to getting this built.

    Let alone the benefits of creating a place that students WANT to live, the stadium would TRULY be a game-changer.

    A world-class indoor football stadium would attract big-time recruits. Down the road, a good football team could get UNLV into the PAC-12 expansion talks as, besides San Diego, Las Vegas is the largest TV market on the West Coast in which the Pac-12 lacks a presence. Getting into the Pac-16+ super-conference would change the athletic program forever.

    It's a big dream but they're dreaming big.

  11. iamdjrebel,
    BYU usually always has a good football program. But more to the point, for UNLV to enter into an escalating battle of football programs (state of the art stadiums, practice facilities, $4,000,000 per year head coaches) would be a losing proposition. Nobody wins (except for those head coaches) -- they'll all just have to keep outdoing each other.

    I've already squared off on the revenue argument you are bringing up, on the following thread:
    http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/feb...

    Suffice it to say, I disagree, and explain why, over there.

  12. Interesting idea. As a Las Vegas native and UNLV alum, I look forward to hearing more about this project, who will pay the bills, and what it can do to elevate UNLV to the next level.

  13. Wow... a chance for UNLV to become a real college.

    I came from a big name College with big name sports, on campus life where students only left campus to walk across the street to the bars/restaurants... and then attended UNLV for a year.

    NO CAMPUS life at UNLV... it's nothing more then a glorified Community College. Sam Boyd stadium is in the middle of nowhere and completely inconvenient to go to... especially if you live on the West Side of Town.

    Hopefully an opportunity to turn UNLV into a real college is not passed on. It's really sad when more then 70% of the students drive back and forth to UNLV everyday.

  14. I can't believe there is people opposing growth. The University is trying to do the best they can with limited resources. Beyond the revenue this project would give the university, they envision of a beautiful non commuter campus (shopping, movie theater, restaurants, hotel, dorms etc .) This will attract more out of state and international students. As you know out of state and international students pay 5 times the regular in state tuition. UNLV has around 6% international and can be a lot more. UNLV is the main university in the city and Las Vegas residents should be proud of it, love it and help it. All the angry people that is jealous because they are not successful and can't accept that others are better than them should stop writing. These people just talk and talk and I'm sure they don't donate a dime to UNLV. They want everything free and easy. IN A WAY IS GOOD BECAUSE UNLV DONT WANT THEM NEAR CAMPUS AND I HOPE THEY NEVER USE THE FUTURE FACILITIES.
    FUTURE JOBS, BETTER CAMPUS, PLACE FOR TEENS & THE WHOLE COMMUNITY, MOTIVATION FOR TEENS, PROFITS FOR THE UNIVERSITY, PRIDE OF HAVING TOP SPORTS AND BE WINNERS, TOURISTS, WORLD CLASS EVENTS (maybe a tennis tournament like Indian wells or Miami) (the Davis cup) (soccer)(NBA)(HOCKEY)(BOXING)(CONCERTS).

  15. The big picture here is that this addition to campus could really change the culture and nature of UNLV from a commuter campus with very few out-of-state students to a traditional full-time student campus where outstanding students looking for a big-time college experience can flock to UNLV from the surrounding states.

    Majestic and UNLV have - in my opinion - the right vision for this university. This is an investment in the future of the school and the future of Las Vegas. I like it.

  16. Scared money don't make money.

    What will all the complainers say when we lose PBR and NFR to Jerry Jones and Cowboys stadium?

  17. I think the potentially biggest part of this plan is not the stadium itself, the "town-square" portion of the proposal. The commuter school aspect of the University currently does hurt the school's reputation and enrollment. Making UNLV's on campus life much more appealing should drastically improve the amount out-of-state tuition and on-campus living. Recently its seems like the Hotel administration college and the large hawaiian connection already brings in the majority out-of-staters. An improvement to the on campus life could bring a lot more other people, especially Californian given the cost of staying in state over there.
    UNLV has a bad rep academically overall, with some good reasons. It has lower admittance standards for instance. However, most of the ranking websites, like US News, use simply the amount of research created as the lone tool to rate schools. As many who've attended college can attest, oftentimes the research-driven faculty are the worst teachers.
    But I digress, the point is that this can really raise the overall profile of the school, which can pay dividends.

  18. Reminds one of attending an auto show and encaged within the glittering lights is a shinny odd looking creature -- a "prototype" they say -- a peek into the possibilities of what the future can hold -- someone's wild dream which inspires hope, creates thought and possibility but is ultimately forever shelved in memory as quickly as a passing star.

    Nothing more than a pitch for higher education, which funds are currently under the pressures of an extreme economic crisis, high local unemployment (particularly in construction), vacancies, bankruptcies, foreclosures, defaults, business closures, bank takeovers, stymied developments, rightfully falling (adjusting) real estate values, declining public revenues, rising fees and fuel costs, a bloated government services sector being propped-up by rocketing public debt --

    Pure propaganda with the intent of rallying public funding support by an organization of six-figure bobble-heads with only one mission -- to raise as much public support as possible for higher education -- who can blame them, that's their job, right?

    Bobble, Bobble"

    Take note the attached proposal question seeking feedback doesn't offer an option as to whether the proposal should even be accepted only where it should be placed.

    The public understands dreamy stadium drawings get attention -- but the results of an economic feasibility study would have been a more respectable public pitch -- perhaps a "game changer" -- no?

    Bobble, Bobble"

    Good luck pitching "prototypes".

    : {

  19. Since Governor Sandogibbons is insisting that higher education's budget be cut by half, I applaud this effort to get private money involved. Republicans can't have it both ways.

  20. "I applaud this effort to get private money involved."

    That's what they WANT YOU TO BELIEVE. Don't buy it. It's a grab for public money and property. Developers make money by "developing." Nevermind that we've got vacant hi-rises, vacant resorts that are going bankrupt, unsold homes by the thousands in housing subdivisions built so far north they should have their own area code, and increasingly vacant store fronts all across the valley. The developers pull their money out long before the blood starts to spill.

    These revenue streams --taxes, which should belong to you and me -- will go to lining Majestic's pockets. In addition, I GUARANTEE that the big banks won't bankroll this unless the State of Nevada, or Clark County, or both, guarantee these bonds. That's exactly how Oscar Goodman got his shiny new city hall built. On the guarantees of the city taxpayer. Zappos helped bail out that boondoggle (though the taxpayer STILL has bonds to pay off for decades, meanwhile, civil employees are being let go or furloughed, services are being cut...), but a Zappos-like white knight can't help out the taxpayer on this one.
    Strike this crap down, or prepare to send part of your paycheck to Majestic's fat cats for the next 20 or 30 years.

  21. BUILD IT!!! It would be so cool. We would hopefully not be a commuter school, this facility would hopefully bring better athletes, make our teams better, maybe moving us to a better conference, making more money, making the school better! I can only hope.