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Proposal emerges to build three-stadium complex in downtown Las Vegas

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Las Vegas National Sports Center

A rendering of the proposed Las Vegas National Sports Center three-stadium complex in downtown Las Vegas.

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011 | 8:28 a.m.

Downtown Stadium Proposal

A rendering of the proposed Las Vegas National Sports Center three-stadium complex in downtown Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

Proposed location of complex

A downtown sports complex proposal with three stadium venues has surfaced with a familiar name leading the effort.

The $1.57 billion Las Vegas National Sports Center plan includes a proposal for a 17,500-seat arena for basketball and hockey, a 9,000-seat partially enclosed baseball stadium and a 50,000-seat partially enclosed football stadium. The baseball and football stadiums could be expanded to 36,000 and 75,000 seats, respectively, to host Major League Baseball and the National Football League.

The proposal, developed by International Development Management LLC, the Romani Group and general contractor Turner Construction, would be located in downtown Las Vegas on 70 acres northeast of the World Market Center near the Spaghetti Bowl freeway interchange of Interstate 15 and U.S. 95.

International Development Management (IDM) is the same company that had proposed building the Silver State Arena on the former site of the Wet ‘n Wild water park near the Sahara hotel and told members of the Clark County Commission last July that a National Basketball Association team was “under contract” to play in the arena if it were built.

The investment group said it would seek lease agreements with UNLV to allow the school’s football, basketball and baseball teams to play in the facilities for $1 a year to provide a new downtown home for Rebel sports.

The proposal – and a four-page report discrediting an on-campus domed stadium plan announced last week by Majestic Realty Co. – surfaced four days before the Board of Regents are scheduled to conduct a special meeting on the domed stadium.

It was unclear whether representatives of IDM would address regents in the public comment portion of the special meeting Friday at which the regents will discuss the merits of the Majestic plan outlined Thursday by the company’s owner, Ed Roski, and president Craig Cavileer.

Roski, whose company was a partner in the construction of Los Angeles’ Staples Center and is part owner of the NBA Los Angeles Lakers and National Hockey League Los Angeles Kings, also owns the Silverton Casino Lodge in Las Vegas.

His domed stadium plan at UNLV is one piece of a bigger proposal that would include construction of campus housing, a new retail component and the refurbishing of the aging Thomas & Mack arena that houses UNLV basketball.

Roski unveiled the plan under the name UNLV Now and the proposal has the backing of UNLV President Neal Smatresk. Roski and Cavileer declined to estimated the cost of their proposal, saying it was too early to pinpoint details.

The 40,000-seat domed stadium would bring Rebel football to the campus for the first time. Games are played now at Sam Boyd Stadium 7½ miles from the university.

But IDM’s report criticizes several aspects of the UNLV Now plan:

· The company questions whether it would be appropriate to pledge donations to the university and funds raised by alumni to back stadium construction bonds at a time when university budgets are being slashed by the Nevada Legislature.

· The company questions whether officials at McCarran International Airport and the Federal Aviation Administration would green-light a domed stadium construction a half-mile away from the north end of McCarran’s Runway 01. “Based on publicly available data provided by the FAA from prior determination of non-hazard (documents) issued in the immediate area, it’s unlikely that the FAA will permit any building height greater than 100 feet above ground level in the area west of Thomas & Mack Center. A stadium dome typically peaks 185 to 225 feet above ground level.”

· Swenson Street, a primary exit for traffic from McCarran, would be cut off with the UNLV Now proposal. The cost of relocating the street “would entail costs that only a public body could carry,” the report says.

· The company questions the dependence on retail sales in a specially formed improvement district to generate taxes that would be pledged against construction bonds at a time when other retail centers are failing.

· The company also questions whether UNLV could sign an exclusive negotiating agreement with Majestic without a competitive bid process.

While IDM criticized the Majestic proposal, questions also abound for the Las Vegas National Sports Center.

The arena proposals are dependent on having professional sports tenants. IDM estimates the basketball-hockey arena would cost $20,000 per fixed seat, plus 30 percent for “soft costs” including interest and other financing expenses. The gross bond amount is estimated at around $486 million.

The baseball stadium would have hard costs of $5,000 per seat for AAA and collegiate baseball and $10,000 per seat for Major League Baseball refinements, resulting in an all-in cost of $60 million for a small stadium and $470 million for a building with Major League amenities.

A $10,000-per-seat estimate also was attached to the football stadium, resulting in a total cost of $560 million.

IDM envisions hundreds of premium seats within the 17,500-seat arena. The company is proposing six court-level “bunker suites” holding 20 people per suite, 56 luxury suites – 36 holding 16 people and 20 holding 12 – two “ultra lounges” holding 192 people per lounge, 20 loges with four seats per loge and two lower bowl club areas with 2,450 seats.

The baseball stadium would have 30 suites and a 750-seat club area. The expansion to 36,000 seats would add 60 more suites.

The football stadium would have 25 suites and two lower-bowl club areas holding 3,500 seats. With an expansion to 75,000 seats, there would be an additional 300 suites.

Both the baseball and football stadiums would be partially enclosed with tensile roof structures.

IDM says the stadiums would be privately financed and no new taxes or tax redirections would be necessary to build them. Officials anticipate construction beginning in October with completion by October 2013.

IDM CEO Chris Milam floated the Silver State Arena proposal on the Strip last summer, but abruptly withdrew it when residents of the Turnberry Estates towers complained that the arena would produce too much traffic in their neighborhood.

Milam said he had an NBA team ready to sign up to play in the arena, but city leaders became skeptical when the likeliest prospective teams indicated they didn’t have any plans to move to Las Vegas.

Luring an NBA team to Las Vegas has been high on Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman’s priority list and many local residents became interested when the NBA played its all-star game in Las Vegas in 2007. The NBA Summer League also plays in Las Vegas.

But Commissioner David Stern has said Las Vegas wouldn’t get an NBA team until it builds a quality arena. He also has expressed concern about Nevada casinos taking wagers on NBA games.

Major League Baseball also flirted with Las Vegas in 2004 when the Montreal Expos relocated its franchise to Washington, D.C., and became the Washington Nationals.

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  1. Keep your eyes on your wallets folks.

  2. "The company also questions whether UNLV could sign an exclusive negotiating agreement with Majestic without a competitive bid process."

    This is a fair question.

  3. Turrialba & dipstick: I agree with both of you - NO TAX DOLLARS should be involved in this specious project. Sports teams have been proven to not grow the economy or provide additional jobs as they merely siphon money & jobs from one sector of the private economy to another and that other is well connected and very rich! Let them use their own money to compete with other businessmen & women. No "welfare" for the rich however it is presented!

  4. "There "might" be some private money, but you can bet the Las Vegas taxpayer will pay. I think the sun "rag" wants this."

    In the past couple weeks we have heard a lot of talk about private money behind these projects, but we have seen precious little of it. The only money we have seen is the tax zone proposal for the UNLV project that doesn't have a price tag. Folks that is public money and a black hole.

    Show me the private money.

  5. Sounds great! Let's do it. Just don't ask me to pay for it!

  6. We can set up a lottery to pay for the stadia !!!

  7. The Vegas version of Field of Dreams.

  8. Just what they need a partially domed stadium when it is 120 degrees out or there is a thunderstorm.

    We should have a tax on anyone that proposes a stadium.

  9. There are so many problems with this proposal, where do you begin? Parking! Financing? Who pays for this? How will you fill the arena? What, we build and then we seek occupancy!

    Over the last three years Las Vegas residents have grown smarter (many of us are hopeful) and will not allow this project to go forward. This is insane!

  10. Why would UNLV sign a lease on the new stadium if it's a comparable distance from UNLV as Sam Boyd through what will surely be worse traffic? And how does it keep the NFR and PBR in town?

  11. Turrialba said it best!

  12. Has the mayor toasted this proposal yet?

  13. Ed--It is 11.30 AM, I am sure the mayor has toasted it several times by now.

  14. Are these people on drugs? I'd like to know so I know which ones to stay away from.

  15. The one thing I don't see in the rendering....Parking!
    Are they using the Wrigley Field model (very little on site parking)? Or maybe they can extend the monorail?
    The 2 year construction schedule can be best described as "very optomistic".
    Of course, due to location, the big game can be called "The Spaghetti Bowl"!

  16. Chunky says:

    We need this about as much as we needed City Center a year ago.

    We need butts in beds or at blackjack tables... NOW not ten years from now!

    That's what Chunky thinks!

  17. Parking Lot--isn't that what the highway is for?

  18. C_Bess, you are right about Seattle. When they imploded the king dome, they still had a $50 million mortgage on it. We were there fir a Mariners game a couple years back (at the new stadiun). $30 to park! And for that, you get a little card telling you they are not responsible for any loss or damage.

  19. The only thing realistic about the UNLV proposal is the request for public support through incremental tax revenues. Everything else, including the price tag for the UNLV project, is not known or wasn't announced.

    NLV-Indep13's comments were right on target.

  20. Look at the pictures! There is a considerably large section labelled as parking.
    I'm not for this proposal btw, I'm just pointing out that parking is a part of the picture.
    One problem is the sports that are most likely to relocate, are the ones most likely to fail. MLB would not work. There are too many games and the one game built the most on tradition. It would be lucky to average 10K a game. NBA is the next most likely. Again, too may games. Does have an outside sot of working. NHL teams barely make it, and never make it in warm cities.
    The NFL would most likely work in a town like Vegas. It's the most popular sport. only 8 home games a year, but Roger Good(y two shoes)dell would never allow a team in Vegas. If a team is going anywhere it will be LA.
    So building 3 stadiums is just an idiotic proposal.

  21. It is ok if it is TOTALLY privately financed. Maybe Obama's buddy Stevie Wynn should build it. Seriously, maybe Goody-ell could be bribed to advocate that it become the permanent home for the Super Bowl. Otherwise maybe you could have the largest Gentlemen's Club in the world - Club Oscar!

  22. Do not take UNLV sports off campus. Sam Boyd is a mess with football, and taking everyone out to Henderson. I know it's not as far as Henderson, but taking sports off campus just add to the commuter unlv already is.

  23. Nickname for the baseball stadium: The Bedpan

  24. Looks like someone stepped on a big soda can, why don't the make them look like the gal from the star wars bar room scene instead?

  25. If the $1.57 billion is all private money, nothing from the taxpayers then I say let them build it.

    There will be construction jobs for the two years it takes to build and then jobs for events and taking care of the place.

    Let them have at it if they have the money but I am betting there is no money lined up for a project like this at this time.

  26. You can bet the unions will be pushing hard for this project......so don't declare it DOA yet.

  27. If you look through the photo gallery there is a place marked as parking - its currently the SEI complex, along with the homeless shelters and a recently expanded Las Vegas Mission. Its basically the area between US-95 east of the bowl, I-15 north of the bowl, and the UPRR. Lots of parking, but then you have to walk under the 95 to get to the stadiums.

  28. None of this is privately funded. About the only thing I have seen thus far from the UNLV and this proposal is how developers spend other people's money. Sales Tax Revenue Bonds and the like. Let's see some private money.

    The boys at UNLV are floating this on the back of STAR (sales tax revenue) bonds. This proposal doesn't look much different.

    I see the public in the public-private partnership, but thus far little private.

  29. Wow! The money may be getting tight, but there is no shortage of "21st Century bad ideas" in Las Vegas.

    But there is a symmetry...empty bank accounts, empty houses, empty job market and now...

    ...future EMPTY STADIA!!! You go, Vegas!!!

  30. Turrialba, the Brakeout in Las Vegas package is done.

    It's delivery time...and time for something a little more realistic than sports stadia.

    brakeout2011 at yahoo.com should get a response within a week, depending how quickly B.G. can read and absorb...and decide what to do.

    But geez, almighty! These boys & their toys...

  31. I read in the other rag (RJ)that one of the regents announced that he would not vote for the UNLV plan. The regent said something about it being a no-brainer after looking at the material and the analyses.

    ChickenLittle, the UNLV proposal isn't about giving back, it is about taking away. Taking away 150 acres or one-third of the campus with a lease, $100 million in Alumni contributions and incremental tax revenue in the neighborhood to fund the bonds. LOL. Show us the money Roski and Company.

  32. If people want to see something at UNLV let's open it up for bidding. None of this non-bid stuff.

    Let's see if there are better deals out there which don't fleece the public, students and alumni.

  33. Ralston published the LVNSC executive summary on Monday, which hammers the UNLV proposal.

    The section analyzing the UNLV proposal is really off the wall--a hack job. Where are the revenues from the stadium in this mess. If they want to distort the dialogue they have.