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Las Vegas Strip arena initiative advances

Updated Monday, Dec. 6, 2010 | 2:19 p.m.

CARSON CITY – A proposal to build an arena on the Las Vegas Strip might be headed for the 2011 Nevada Legislature, but first it will face a legal challenge.

The secretary of state’s office says it has verified more than enough voter signatures to move the initiative petition along.

Matt Griffin, deputy secretary of state in charge of elections, said Monday that 157,778 signatures were certified as registered voters on the petition. It needed 97,002.

Opponents have seven days to file suit, Griffin said. An effort to stop the initiative was made in district court, but failed. That could be appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.

The arena concept is backed by Caesars Entertainment Corp. but opposed by MGM Resorts International.

Scott Scherer, attorney for the nonprofit Taxpayers for Protection of Nevada Jobs, which includes MGM, said he believes there are a lot more invalid signatures on the petition. He indicated a lawsuit will be filed Wednesday next week in district court in Carson City.

Financing for the proposed 18,000-seat arena to attract either a professional basketball or hockey team would be financed by an increase of 0.9 percent in the sales and use tax to be imposed in a gaming enterprise zone on the Strip.

To be certified by the secretary of state’s office, the petition had to have at least 5 percent of 221,874 signers be registered voters in each of Nevada’s three congressional districts.

Griffin said there were 45,332 verified signatures in District 1, where 24,944 were required. In District 2, 34,479 signatures were required and the petition had 49,861. In District 3, there were 62,585 certified signatures when 37,561 were needed.

If the Legislature doesn't act on the petition within 40 days or rejects it, it would go on the 2012 ballot for voters to decide.

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