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January 20, 2018

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UNLV president disappointed that stadium bill failed

Neal Smatresk

Neal Smatresk

UNLV President Neal Smatresk said Wednesday he was “terribly disappointed” a bill that would have created a special tax increment finance district for a proposed 40,000-seat domed stadium near UNLV failed in the final hours of the legislative session Monday.

Senate Bill 501 bundled three Las Vegas-area stadium proposals — located near UNLV, the Las Vegas Strip and downtown Las Vegas. Smatresk surmised the “unusual” packaging of stadiums might have caused its downfall.

“The combined complexity of the proposal gave it enough extra weight that it did not pass,” Smatresk told 500 UNLV students, professors and staffers on Wednesday during a budget meeting. “It is with sadness that I tell you we did not get that done.”

The proposal is far from dead, however, Smatresk said. UNLV is looking into alternative funding sources for the stadium, which is still being discussed among stakeholders, he said.

“We’re determined to press on,” Smastresk said. “We’re committed to a vision, and when you’re committed to a vision, you don’t take one step back. You keep pushing.”

Smatresk called the proposed stadium a “brand-changer and name-changer” for UNLV. The arena would be part of a 150-acre master-planned development, including retail space and student housing, at Tropicana Avenue and Paradise Road.

The stadium, which was announced with fanfare in February, would be built through a public-private partnership with real estate mogul Ed Roski and Silverton Casino Lodge President Craig Cavileer.

No academic dollars would be spent on the project, Smastresk said, although revenue and proceeds from ticket sales and rent may be used.

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