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May 29, 2015

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UNLV Now stadium proposal on track, regents are told

UNLV officials updated Nevada's higher education leaders on Friday about the details of a proposed tax district to finance a new stadium on campus.

The issue: Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick introduced Assembly Bill 335, which would create a tax increment financing district within the Maryland Parkway campus of UNLV. A percentage of the tax revenue collected within this district would go toward redevelopment projects in the district.

The vote: There was no vote taken.

The details: If approved by the Legislature, AB 335 would create a special tax district that would collect any new tax revenue above current tax revenue from the UNLV campus, which is about $900,000 per year.

Affected taxes include property tax, business activity tax, law enforcement tax, the state and 4.25 percent of the Clark County sales tax, hotel room tax and restricted gaming tax.

The tax collection would last 51 years, beginning July 1, 2014, and ending July 1, 2065. The tax district itself will exist in perpetuity, allowing the Legislature to renew tax increment financing to repair and maintain the stadium. (Regents on Friday also approved a $59.2 million bond initiative to renovate the Thomas & Mack Center.)

AB 335 also would create a public authority that would oversee the tax revenue and appropriate it to redevelopment projects on campus, such as the proposed UNLV Now stadium and student village, made up of retail shops and apartment-style dorms.

The authority would be made up of nine members: four regents (one of whom can be an system official), one Clark County commissioner, one member from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, one person appointed by the governor.

These seven members would appoint the last two members, who must be executives from the tourism, hotel and resort industries.

Any action taken by the board would require six votes. This means that while the board of regents will have a strong voting bloc that can block motions, it can't control the authority.

Regents will have until Aug. 31 to appoint its members. The full board is expected to be finalized by Oct. 1.

The authority can't own UNLV's land but can lease it from the Nevada System of Higher Education upon approval by the Board of Regents. The authority can own and finance the "mega-events" center, which would become the property of the Nevada higher education system when the authority is dissolved in 2065.

Taxes generated in the district won't be enough to cover the total cost for the project. Funding details are scant, but UNLV officials are looking at a combination of naming rights, suite and ticket sales, as well as contributions from donors and the resort industry.

The authority will finance any campus redevelopment projects, so the proposed stadium projects would not be on the Nevada higher education system's financial statements. The system also would not be on the hook for any debt incurred in the construction of the stadium.

The authority will choose the new developers for the stadium and student village. The developers will be bid competitively, and preference will be given to Nevada contractors.

UNLV Now point man Don Snyder told regents Friday that he is in the process of re-envisioning the stadium project with input from the resort industry.

After dropping private developer partner Majestic Realty last month, UNLV officials are reconsidering the scope and cost of the stadium project, rethinking proposed amenities such as the nightclubs and the number of seats, Snyder said.

If approved, the new authority would help UNLV accomplish that with the help of the resort industry, Snyder said.

"I feel taking the foot off the gas has given us an opportunity to move forward in a good, solid, rational way," he said.

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