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


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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