Sunday, July 15, 2012 | 2 a.m.
- Bruce Woodbury talks about why the Strip needs a new arena
The Las Vegas Arena Foundation (LVAF) is proposing a 20,000-seat indoor arena to be built on the Strip on land owned by Caesars Entertainment behind Imperial Palace. The facility would be suitable for an NBA or NHL franchise, as well as other events such as concerts or the National Finals Rodeo, which has been at the Thomas & Mack Center since 1985. The LVAF is planning to fund the $500 million project by implementing a 0.9 percent sales tax for specified businesses within a three-mile radius of the proposed location.
Principals behind proposal
The Las Vegas Arena Foundation is a nonprofit organization formed to develop an arena specifically on land donated by Caesars Entertainment. The foundation’s chairman is former County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury. Other foundation leaders include Marybel Batjer, an executive with Caesars Entertainment; Danny Thompson, president of the AFL-CIO of Nevada; and Pat Shalmy, former Clark County manager.
Support for or against
Proponents of the plan distributed an initiative petition (Building an Arena for a Stronger Future) in 2010 and turned in 221,874 signatures, well above the required 97,002 signatures. Opponents — namely MGM Resorts and Boyd Gaming through the nonprofit Taxpayers for the Protection of Nevada Jobs — have filed multiple lawsuits attempting to prevent the initiative from appearing on the statewide ballot in November.
Likelihood of attracting a professional team
If the arena were to be built, its Strip location would be head and shoulders above any current Las Vegas venue when it comes to attracting an NBA or NHL franchise. With up to 94 suites and a total capacity of nearly 20,000, the arena is aiming to compete with the multitude of sports facilities that house pro teams across the country.
Financing and/or enticements
The LVAF wants to fund the project with a 0.9 percent tax collected on retail sales within a three-mile radius of the location. The tax would extend to businesses within a Gaming Enterprise District — mostly the Strip — within unincorporated Clark County. The district is designed to put the bulk of the tax on tourists while keeping the annual impact for the average resident to $1.84, according to the LVAF.
Legal and legislative obstacles
On June 19, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled the petition’s description of effect — a 200-word summary of the proposal — was “deceptive and materially misleading” because it failed to inform voters that passing it would effectively kill other arena proposals in town. The Supreme Court kicked the description of effect back to District Court to be reworded, but justices refused to take the initiative off the ballot. Taxpayers for the Protection of Nevada Jobs responded with a motion June 22 to invalidate all the signatures, citing NRS 295.015, which states, in part, that if even one word of the description of effect is changed, then “any signatures that were collected on the original petition before it was amended are not valid.” The high court has since recalled the case for further consideration.
There is also a proposal under review by the Nevada Supreme Court — Senate Bill 495 — slated to go on the ballot as a competing proposal. It would make it illegal to have different tax levels within the same county, which would ruin LVAF’s funding plan.