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October 22, 2014

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Developers continue push for UNLV stadium, retail district

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Justin M. Bowen

Silverton CEO Craig Cavileer discusses Majestic Realty’s latest plans for a new arena/retail/residential project on UNLV’s campus in the executive offices at the Silverton on Tuesday, June 28, 2011.

Craig Cavileer Discusses New Arena

Silverton CEO Craig Cavileer discusses Majestic Realty's latest plans for a new arena/retail/residential project on UNLV's campus in the executive offices at the Silverton on Tuesday, June 28, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Proposed project location

Skeptics will question the wisdom of building a massive entertainment-driven enclave in the heart of the recession-ravaged Las Vegas Valley, but Los Angeles developer Ed Roski Jr. and his Las Vegas point man, Craig Cavileer, are moving ahead with plans for a proposed UNLV stadium-arena, student housing and retail complex.

The effort continues despite the recent legislative failure of a plan that could have helped finance the project or two competing proposals.

The multibillion-dollar UNLV development would be anchored by a $600 million expandable stadium that would employ hydraulic tracks to expand horizontally and vertically to hold 7,500 to 40,000 seats. Architect Dan Meis, who designed the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, employed similar technology to design a 10,000- to 35,000-seat arena in Japan.

Plans also call for 5,000 to 10,000 units of student housing, much of it coming on land owned by developer Michael Saltman, who has pushed much of the past decade for the development of what he has dubbed “Midtown UNLV.”

The project would expand the available stock of UNLV student dormitories from four residence halls and 1,810 units to 5,000 to 10,000 units.

Plans also call for the construction of 600,000 square feet of retail space along Maryland Parkway and Tropicana Avenue, creating what Cavileer says would be a new entertainment district that would draw locals and tourists, while transforming the nature of the UNLV campus.

Cavileer has spoken with Goldman Sachs Managing Director Greg Carey about raising debt financing to help finance the project, which carries a price tag of at least $2 billion.

A bill that would have allowed local developers to compete for the public financing of arena projects died in the final hours of the legislative session despite a flurry of last-minute maneuvering to keep parts of it alive. But after three days of hearings, lawmakers ran out of time and patience to fix problems in Senate Bill 501. The bill wasn’t introduced until the final days of the session.

“This is not about sports. Everyone wants to make this about major league soccer or minor league baseball,” Cavileer said Tuesday. “This is about this community asset, this 330-acre community asset we own here sits in the heart of the entertainment capital.

“But what we need to do is look at the human capital side of this city, and so, ‘How do we import and how do we create talent, keep talent here and grow out talent from the inside out as opposed to relying on 40 million tourists?’ ”

The Roski-Cavileer project is one of three arena proposals in some phase of development in the Las Vegas Valley. Caesars Entertainment is working with AEG and entertainment mogul Phil Anschutz to develop a 20,000-seat arena east of the Strip. A November ballot measure could determine whether Caesars and Anschutz can raise financing for the project through a 0.9 cent sales tax on products sold within a three-mile corridor of the Strip.

MGM Resorts International is pushing a competing ballot measure that would defeat the sales tax plan.

Las Vegas has chosen developer Cordish Co. to develop a downtown arena near the Spaghetti Bowl.

A fourth proposal by businessman Chris Milam to build a multivenue sports complex on land west of Mandalay Bay apparently died when state lawmakers rejected SB501.

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  1. This project has absolutely no theme connect with UNLV or a an educational function. A Retail District? Understanding algebra is not necessary to manage a Lingerie Boutique or selling muti-colored plastic porpoises. Does Oxford or Cal-Tech need a retail District?

    Bringing 10,000 cars down Tropicana to park for a football game in the evening would be so disastrous the first time that very few would attempt a second try.

    Tropicana and Flamingo cannot handle the overload traffic for new stadiums and the land is needed for education, not underwear sales. Put the Stadium out in the Desert where it belongs, next to Sam Boyd.

  2. No theme connect with UNLV or educational function? Apparently you haven't been to some of the nicer universities. First one that comes to mine is University of Arizona. Their retail area just off the main campus is a small little mecca of its own in the middle of a pretty bleak inner city part of Tucson. It transforms the campus atmosphere, much like Midtown UNLV would have done and this project would accomplish for UNLV. Change the environment for the positive and you'll probably change behavior towards something more positive as well.

  3. Duke University has a Retail area, N.C. State also, UNC Chapel Hill also, GW Law School in NVA yes, Georgetown yes, etc..... It's harder to find a large school without Retail Services than with.
    If this plan is a financial winner for UNLV, without additional property tax dollars, we should all support it. Las Vegas is not a large enough market, to support any Major Leaque Sport other than possibly the NFL.
    Las Vegas has No Traffic - go to LA, Atlanta or Washington D.C. and learn about Traffic.

  4. I am personally against this proposal. Waste of money in my opinion. There are better ways to spend money in these times on education--think the stadium will be the center of campus and not the library. We will be devoting precious resources to retail and entertainment experiences and not educational experiences (it is about priorities).

    I do recognize that people may disagree with this, so if we are going to discuss stadia, what are the questions we should be asking? This is something the article misses. We are being asked to buy, what do we want to buy and what can we afford?

    If (and this is a big if) the citizens of Clark County desire such venues, they need to consider the economies of scale and scope. First of all, the project as envisioned at UNLV will likely require infrastructure improvements and those are not cheap (see Minnesota, where a downtown location was nixed due to the extensive highway improvements needed). They are back to the Metrodome site (the last I heard), where infrastructure exists to move people in and out. The last time I was in the Tropicana and Paradise areas there was no traffic (yeah right).

    What venues are needed? Baseball, basketball, soccer, football, ice hockey and perphaps other activities (major league and or minor). The venue(s) should be located to minimize the cost of infrastructure upgrades (multiple venues at multiple locations will likely cost more due to the duplication of infrastructure).

    Downtown or out-of-town--I have seen both tried back east. In Philly, the professional sports complex is not in the downtown, but still accessible by public transport (non existent in Vegas) and highways. When they built new stadia, the infrastructure was in place.

    In Baltimore, the venues are downtown (traffic nightmare, but nice if you work downtown and go to a game after work. Football in the downtown is a failure. It just doesn't work on Sunday mornings the way baseball does. All the traffic and none of the benefits. People will not reveal their secret routes to bypass the traffic (take Key Highway).

    Given the reality of Las Vegas 2011, we are talking one project in one location. How can this project maximize the value to the community or communities of interest?

    Lastly, whatever project people want, the developer should be bringing some skin to the game. So far, the taxpayer is the only named participant with money. Yes, foregone revenue is a cost.

  5. Neonopolis II. UNLV should hire Jan Jones away from Harrah's so that she could cheerlead this absolutely fabulous project - for Silverton and Mr. Cavileer. (Great name for a promoter, by the way.)

  6. I don't claim to be a financial wizard by any means, but this project seems to be win by all parties involved. The construction would mean JOBS, not the fake ones that Harry Reid lied during his re-election, but real JOBS. It will stimulate the economy around the campus and give the students more housing and options for entertainment, dining etc.
    This project will make huge strides in UNLV being considered a legitimate/big time facility or program.
    The traffic arguements will always be there, but great strides have been made in recent years to improve traffic flow. Just look at the route to the speedway and how fast that got better.

  7. What can we do to help support and push this project through?

  8. VV,

    What exactly has been built in Las Vegas that nobody came for?

  9. I am in agreement with most of the negative reaction to this proposal.
    It's a Roski thing. He has the Silverton but wants more of Vegas. He should have thought of this 6 years ago when the valley was in better economic shape.
    The only positive I see is the creation of jobs, we need them, but the end result is not worth it.
    I enjoy the politics involve: Place Cavileer as CEO of the Silverton, but he is really here to spearhead the arena project. In the meantime the Silverton is trying to be a player in the locals market, but is not succeeding.
    Priorities please. And please, stop being transparent, be honest.