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September 3, 2015

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At a glance: UNLV Now

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Artist rendering of the proposed UNLV Now project.

UNLV Now

Artist rendering of the proposed UNLV Now project. Launch slideshow »

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  • UNLV President Neal Smatresk talks about the importance of sports for the university
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The heart of the UNLV Now plan is a 50,000-seat domed stadium (or “mega-event center”), expandable to 55,000 seats, on the campus of UNLV. Also included in the project would be thousands of living units — described once as mini resorts — for UNLV students and faculty, and a retail area.

Principals behind proposal

This public/private venture brings together UNLV and California-based Majestic Realty Co., developers of the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Craig Cavileer, Silverton resort president, is Majestic’s project representative.

Support for or against

The Nevada Board of Regents has embraced the project. UNLV President Neal Smatresk calls it the “transformational step we need” for the campus. The project received a big boost this summer when longtime Las Vegas developer Irwin Molasky spoke on its behalf to the Board of Regents. Thus far, no organized opposition has surfaced.

Likelihood of attracting a pro team

Developers are thinking NHL or soccer, even rugby. The prevailing thought in Las Vegas is, “if you build it, the NBA or NHL will come.” Maybe even Major League Soccer.

Financing and/or enticements

UNLV would float bonds for long-term financing, leveraging sales tax revenue collected onsite. Majestic would provide private funding and is doing most of the planning.

Legal and legislative obstacles

Project developers are seeking a tax-increment finance district for the project, which would require legislative approval. If the district is approved, the project would be exempt from paying property, sales and live entertainment taxes for an estimated 25 to 30 years. Developers could still collect those fees and keep the money to help pay off the project’s debt. Proponents will lobby the Legislature to approve the tax-increment finance district early in the 2013 session. A similar attempt to allow tax dollars to be used to fund a stadium’s construction failed late in the 2011 session.

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