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October 9, 2015

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Proposed Henderson arena keeps clearing hurdles

With financing in place, a proposed indoor arena in Henderson is gaining momentum, and construction could begin as early as October, developer Chris Milam told the city council Tuesday night.

Plans for the multibillion-dollar Las Vegas National Sports Complex, which could eventually comprise four stadiums on 485 acres of federally owned land near the M Resort and Interstate 15 in Henderson, were unveiled in September.

Milam, who is leading the effort, said a $650 million construction loan needed to build the first stadium — a 17,500 seat enclosed arena that would host events and possibly a professional basketball franchise — was approved last week by the investment committee of China Security & Surveillance Technology Inc., a company based in Shenzhen, China.

Although details need to be worked through before a final agreement is signed, Milam confidently proclaimed that the financing has been “fully approved.”

The next major step for the arena comes June 4, when the developer must submit a bid to purchase the land, appraised at roughly $10 million, to the Bureau of Land Management.

Milam’s presentation came as the city council debated an amendment to the stadium’s master plan agreement that strengthens protections for the city should the project go belly up.

The amendment, approved unanimously by the council with Councilman John Marz absent, gives the city the right to purchase the land if the developer hasn’t made significant progress finalizing financial, planning and legal details by March 2013, director of utility services Dennis Porter said.

The city would also have the option to buy the land before it could be sold to any third parties, Porter said, and if a third-party sale does occur, the city would receive any net proceeds, preventing the developer from flipping the property for a profit.

Initial plans for the complex called for the indoor arena and an outdoor stadium suitable for a professional soccer franchise to be built concurrently at a cost of $1.3 billion.

Milam said his company has decided to focus strictly on the indoor arena at this point due to the large amount of work needed to prepare for building and opening the facility.

If the land sale goes smoothly and financing is fully secured, Milam said he hopes to start construction in October, with the arena targeted to open in September 2014.

Development of the soccer stadium, as well as a potential baseball stadium and a 63,500 seat domed stadium suitable for professional football, would follow after the arena opens, Milam said.

The project is not contingent on an NBA team relocating to Las Vegas, but discussions with two franchises are ongoing, with the potential to add a third, Milam said.

Mayor Andy Hafen expressed his support for the project, but underscored that the city is doing everything possible to minimize risk to Henderson taxpayers.

“I’ve said it all along: What community, what mayor wouldn’t want a project like this in their city?” he said. “We’ve done our due diligence and we’ll continue to do our due diligence. I think that if things fall into place and we get this thing going, it will be a boon for Henderson for years and years to come.”

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