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December 21, 2014

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UNLV won’t pursue funding for new stadium until 2017

UNLV President Don Snyder explains a slide to the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce members at the Four Seasons Hotel on Wednesday, March 19, 2014.

UNLV President Don Snyder explains a slide to the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce members at the Four Seasons Hotel on Wednesday, March 19, 2014.

After months of meetings and discussion, UNLV’s Campus Improvement Advisory Board decided the timing isn’t right to seek funding for a new stadium.

UNLV acting President Don Snyder suggested during a meeting today that the group delay its request for the stadium until the 2017 session of the state Legislature.

Snyder said funding requests for a UNLV school of medicine and a new building for the Harrah’s Hotel College should take priority. The multi-million-dollar stadium request made more sense for next session, he said.

“The community has many needs and we have to prioritize that to get done what needs to be done at the right time,” Snyder said. “While there is clearly a need for a state of the art stadium, it is not appropriate to move forward for funding in the 2015 session.”

The board was initially set to discuss endorsing a 45,000-seat, $523 million open-air stadium with the possibility for expansion. The stadium would be funded through a combination of a tax district on the Strip, stadium income, naming rights and fundraising.

After the medical school funding was approved in the Nevada System of Higher Education budget, Snyder decided to suggest postponing the stadium request.

The delay was met with agreement from the 11-member board. Nearly every member echoed the sentiment that the timing wasn’t right.

Regent James Dean Leavitt said he was in favor of the extension because the focus for funding should be on the medical school.

Board member Kirk Hendrick said pushing for the stadium now would be to send it into a black hole.

“Our skyline deserves (a stadium), and this city deserves that,” Hendrick said. “At the same time, the timing isn’t right.”

Snyder said the delay doesn’t mean there isn’t a need for a stadium. It will be one of the top priorities for the next session of the Legislature, he said.

The extension gives the board time to finalize a location for the stadium and explore philanthropic support to minimize the economic impact a stadium would have on residents, Leavitt said.

Leavitt also insisted the board continue exploring a larger, 60,000-seat domed stadium that would be better for community events.

“If this is just a football stadium, I don’t support it,” Leavitt said. “If it’s a community event stadium that benefits the entire community, then let’s do it right.”

The board was tasked with determining the feasibility and need for a stadium on or near UNLV’s campus, as well as recommend financing options to fund it. The Legislature would then decide whether to approve the stadium project and the funding requests to build it.

The board will finalize its report for stadium recommendations on Sept. 11, and send it to the Legislature by Oct. 1 as required by state law.

It will then seek a bill to extend its meetings for the next two years.

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