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July 23, 2014

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Ray Brewer: From the Pressbox

From the Press Box:

Ray Brewer: New stadium would be major score for city, instant program changer for UNLV football

Image

Paul Takahashi

A model of the UNLV Now stadium project is shown here at the Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents meeting on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. UNLV and its private developer partners updated regents on the project, which now features a 100-yard-long video screen and six VIP suites seating 300 people.

UNLV Now Stadium Renderings

UNLV Now mega events center rendering. Launch slideshow »

UNLV Now Stadium

A model of the UNLV Now stadium project is shown here at the Nevada System of Higher Education's Board of Regents meeting on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. UNLV and its private developer partners updated regents on the project, which now features a 100-yard-long video screen and six VIP suites seating 300 people. Launch slideshow »

More on stadiums

There always will be a special place in my heart for the Silver Bowl.

That’s what we locals call Sam Boyd Stadium, the starter home of sorts for the UNLV football program if the proposed UNLV Now project becomes a reality. UNLV Now, an estimated $800 million project for the UNLV campus, is a mega-event center designed to attract a Major League Soccer franchise, NFL exhibition game, NFL Pro Bowl and a weekend music festival, among at least 15 new events each year.

That message was delivered Friday in a presentation by Majestic Realty, UNLV’s private partner in the project, and other UNLV officials to Nevada’s higher education leaders at the Nevada Board of Regents meeting.

“This project is a game changer for UNLV and Las Vegas,” said Don Snyder, UNLV Now’s project lead. “It’s an important and significant project for the state, as well. It’s the next big thing.”

First, let’s get one thing straight: It’s tempting to refer to the project as a new home for UNLV football, but remember that’s only one part of the equation. A small part, actually.

This stadium is being touted on a much bigger scale. After all, you’re probably not going to be successful arranging financing or rallying community support for a new home for a team that averages fewer than 15,000 fans per game and has just three bowl appearances ever.

Instead, the facility is envisioned to host multiple events, generate nearly $400 million annually and be a boost to the tourism industry not only on the Strip but regionally, as well.

Among the events UNLV Now’s planners hope to draw are a neutral-site football game for BYU, the Las Vegas Bowl and a second college bowl game, the Pac-12 and Mountain West football championship games, a Bowl Championship Series playoff game, a weeklong UFC celebration in July and mega fight card, an NFL training camp, the National Finals Rodeo and the Final Four (pending the NCAA removing a ban that prohibits tournament games from being played here because of gambling). Organizers said the stadium is being designed to accommodate a professional soccer team.

So, yes, this would be a game changer for Las Vegas. That’s what excites the local in me about this project — while I love the 702, it wasn’t the ideal home for a sports junkie when I was growing up because, with the exception of UNLV basketball and the Las Vegas Stars, the options were limited. Now, it seems locals would have major sporting or entertainment options every weekend.

On some fall weekends, that would include UNLV football — the on-campus presence the Rebels have always lacked — and it would give them a chance to become a major player nationwide. Gone would be the long hauls on game days from Henderson or Summerlin to eastern Las Vegas, where sewer odors and the stadium’s deficiencies share part of the blame for unsuccessful football seasons.

UNLV Now, which would seat 25,000 for UNLV football but could expand to 60,000 if needed and for other events, would be a place fans would want to watch a game. Imagine tailgating all day on the UNLV campus, then walking into a brand new stadium to cheer on the scarlet and gray. Pretty cool. Bring on UNR.

Mark my words: This will be a reality for the 2017 season. Sure, there are several roadblocks — mainly financing — to overcome, but there is so much positive energy in the community, I’d be shocked if it doesn’t happen.

When I grew up in Las Vegas — traveling across town at that time required taking Tropicana Avenue, Flamingo Road, Sahara Avenue or Charleston Boulevard — spending a Saturday evening under the lights at the Silver Bowl watching PCAA college football action was all we knew. We also went to the Silver Bowl on the Fourth of July for a fireworks show that brought more enjoyment for us as kids than watching the Rebels play Long Beach State and other schools that no longer offer gridiron competition. Some in the community have suggested UNLV scrap its football program, too.

I say no.

A new era of Rebels football is on the horizon.

UNLV is a sleeping giant in college football. I truly believe that. Many who are involved with the UNLV Now project believe it, too.

That’s what makes this stadium a real game changer. It would change the face of UNLV football, UNLV athletics and the university as a whole. It would send a loud message to the rest of the nation that UNLV is serious about football.

A stadium to be proud of would boost the program, particularly in player recruitment, and start a significant domino effect. Let me explain.

It’s not too far-fetched to imagine UNLV football starting to win regularly, and because of the event center with all its bells and whistles, the program becomes an ideal pick for conference expansion. The Pac-12, which will host its conference basketball tournament starting in March at MGM Grand Garden Arena, with its built-in relationship with Las Vegas would be a perfect fit for UNLV.

UNLV will never have a winning team at Sam Boyd Stadium — no matter who the coach is. The opportunity to upgrade is here, now.

Don’t get me wrong, locals will always love the Silver Bowl and remember evenings watching Randall Cunningham, Ickey Woods and Randy Gatewood run up and down the turf.

Come 2017, let’s hope we can take photos with our friends and family in front of a Randall Cunningham statue entering UNLV’s new stadium.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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  1. Let's face it - the way there could be an "instant program changer" for the UNLV football program would be to end it and stopping wasting a ton of money on it. Use the money for academics. After all, isn't that why UNLV was formed in the first place?

  2. WHITE ELEPHANT ALERT!! There should not be ONE CENT of public funding for this albatross. The "powers that be" have been bloviating about stadiums for years, and thankfully, none have been built.

  3. @tigermike I agree in whole with what you posted. It is fluff or better know in the real estate world as Puffin and it's legal. Meaning it's not a lie it's so sensationalized that anyone could tell that what they are told is not true sorta like "Million Dollar View"

    I also read between the lines and Notice that he didn't say there were any actual commitment's with the excerpts like the following one would have to look closer before buying into it.
    1.Majestic Realty, UNLV's private partner in the project [Key word Realty and Private partner]
    2.the facility is envisioned to host multiple events, generate nearly $400 million annually [Key words here are envisioned and $400 million annually] I'm a invester and if I new I could make that I wouldn't want partners.
    3. UNLV Now's planners hope to draw [Hope to draw meaning no pledge commitments]
    4.(pending the NCAA removing a ban that prohibits tournament games from being played here because of gambling).[ Is there even a motion on the floor.]
    5.UNLV will never have a winning team at Sam Boyd Stadium -- no matter who the coach is. [I disagree that the place the games are played debase's talent]

    Bottomline is just that the bottomline for the private investors. Just imagine they will be jetting across the globe visiting Paris, Rome, London in a brand new Personal jet while watching the creditors and the obligators ( Taxpayers ) negotiate a structured bankruptcy plan. Isn't that wonderful.
    The plan is to Privatize profits and socialize the expences. If the taxper is involved we should pay for all of it and get all revenues too and cut the partners out they bring nothing to the table but PUFF.

  4. You would think that a 50% return on your money for the first 2 years that every invester would be trying to get a piece of the action. That doesn't seem to be the case though. No one is lining up including the people. How about this put it to a referendum ballot?
    I think it may very well be unconstitutional Article 8 Sec: 10. Loans of public money to or ownership of stock in certain corporations by county or municipal corporation prohibited. No county, city, town, or other municipal corporation shall become a stockholder in any joint stock company, corporation or association whatever, or loan its credit in aid of any such company, corporation or association, except, rail-road corporations[,] companies or associations.

  5. Author, wouldn't it be awesome if UNLV became an academics powerhouse instead? No sports. Noworthless liberal arts. Just world class core academics.

  6. The stadium will generate tens of millions of dollars per year for UNLV and hundreds of millions for the economy. The money made by the stadium will further the mission of UNLV and make the school better. It will facilitate UNLV to get into the Pac-12, there is no academic slouch in the Pac-12.

  7. Wow Mr. Brewer that must be some good stuff you're taking , tell the doctor to lighten up the dosage. UNLV football loses games because of the swamp smell? Really ? How bout if we just get some febreeze blown into the stadium on game day and then Rebel football will be a force to be reckoned with . ROTFLMAO ,thats a good one Brewer. The Henderson Home News called, they're missing a sports reporter. LOL

  8. @TomD1228
    I agree with your post. That is making a well informed decision. I would like to add to that I don't have a problem building it at all it's the partnership I'm concerned with I feel that it should be either a Private project or a Public project not a Hybrid Private/Public project because when it's the latter it will always be a PRIVATIZED PROFITS and SOCIALIZED EXSPENSE PROJECT.