Las Vegas Sun

June 19, 2018

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With stadium elsewhere, UNLV has plans for 42 acres near campus


Mikayla Whitmore

A look at an empty lot Tuesday, March 1, 2016, near Tropicana Avenue and Koval Lane. UNLV closed on a $50 million deal to buy 42 acres of land that may be used to build a stadium.

Ruled out as the location for a stadium now that the Raiders have purchased their preferred Russell Road site, UNLV’s 42-acre plot of land located off Tropicana Avenue now could be destined for mixed uses.

UNLV purchased the site near MGM Grand, just blocks away from the main campus, for $50 million in January 2016, with money provided by the nonprofit UNLV Foundation. The purchase was the largest land deal made by the university since the 1960s.

Initial plans included a stadium, but concerns about its proximity to McCarran International Airport squashed that idea, and the Raiders turned elsewhere. Now the university is looking toward a public-private, mixed-use project, with several options being considered.

“When we first looked at that land, we had a stadium option and also a campus village option,” said Gerry Bomotti, senior vice president for finance and business for UNLV. “We have focused for some time on the campus village option, which would be a mix of different possibilities.”

Tentative plans call for 600,000-700,000 gross square feet for UNLV programs, 500,000 gross square feet for market residential space (520 units) and 200,000-300,000 gross square feet for 520 mixed use or flex space.

Retail and food and beverage establishments are tentatively planned for the the area facing Tropicana, Bomotti said. Behind that area would be classrooms for graduate programs, executive education, business programs, educational outreach and entertainment engineering.

Potential clinics for the medical school and possibly housing are also on the master plan.

“It wouldn’t be undergraduate housing, but more along the lines of graduate and faculty staff-type housing,” Bomotti said. “It would be kind of market residential in that area.”

The plan is set to be introduced to the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents next month in Reno.

“I’m hopeful, maybe by the fall, that we can get out a solicitation for the public-private partnership activity along Tropicana,” Bomotti said. “We still have some work to do there, but we’re hopefully bringing on a person (developer) who will help us with some of these activities.”

The 42-acre complex, the medical school and the the 65,000-seat domed stadium for the Rebels shar with the Raiders are helping to propel UNLV’s push to achieve Tier 1 status — the most elite rating in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning.

“It does a lot for us, especially the medical school,” Bomotti said. “Starting the medical school and (adding) faculty, the opportunity for collaborations, and more research activity — that’s really a major step toward our goal at top-tier there. The stadium is very important as well. We all believe that we can increase the profile and success of our football program and eventually be in a position where we could be desirable for one of the Power 5 Conferences to look at.”

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