Developer wants tax zone around site for stadiums

A Texas developer with plans to build a $1.95 billion three-stadium complex west of Interstate 15 said Tuesday that he'll scuttle the project unless state lawmakers create a special taxing district surrounding the site.

Chris Milam, whose name has in the past been tied to a proposed Strip hotel-casino project and a similar stadium deal downtown, said he is confident lawmakers will take up his cause even with just 20 days left in the current legislative session.

Milam, in an interview at the Las Vegas Review-Journal's offices Tuesday afternoon, said the project can't be completed without enabling legislation to create a special taxing district surrounding the 63-acre parcel across the freeway from Mandalay Bay.

The impact of his warning was unclear late Tuesday. Legislators who might be involved in the legislation couldn't be reached for comment.

The tax plan would not increase the taxes of Clark County residents and would only add a 12 percent cost to those buying a ticket for an event at one of the three arenas, Milam said.

"We're not asking that taxes be increased and we're not asking that anyone else's taxes be increased," Milam said. "We're not asking that county taxes be redirected. All we want are the tax revenues generated by the buildings."

If approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor, the taxing district would allow Milam's group, International Development Management, to keep sales, live entertainment, property and other taxes generated at the stadiums' site for reinvestment in the facilities.

Earlier this month Milam's group announced plans to acquire the vacant land and build a 9,000-seat baseball park, a 17,500-seat arena for a National Basketball Association team, and a 36,000-seat stadium for a Major League Soccer squad.

He also agreed to purchase the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s baseball team and move it to the new baseball park.

The two partially enclosed stadiums would be designed for expansion -- the ballpark could grow to 36,000 seats to accommodate a Major League Baseball team; the stadium to 50,000 seats for NCAA events and international soccer exhibitions or even 72,000 seats for a National Football League franchise. All three venues could also host NCAA basketball, baseball, football and soccer.

Milam said he has spent two years working on the project and has "millions of dollars of his own money" invested.

While two investment firms, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, are working on the project's financing, Milam said tax legislation is a must.

He also said the deal for the 51s would fall through without the new stadium.

"I can't pay what I agreed to pay for the 51s and leave them at Cashman Field," Milam said.

Milam is unsure how a bill would be introduced, but said he's worried it could be attached to legislation unattractive to lawmakers.

"We have a lot of lobbyists in Carson City working on this," he said.

Milam said the project would create 10,500 construction jobs -- roughly equal to the CityCenter development -- and 4,500 permanent jobs.

If the legislation is approved, Milam said construction could begin by the end of year with the stadiums completed in time for the spring 2014 Major League Soccer season and the 2014 Triple-A baseball season.

Milam said Major League Soccer is committed to bringing a team to Las Vegas and he said he has been in conversations with the NBA about attracting an existing franchise. Milam he has spoken with Gov. Brian Sandoval, but he didn't say whether the Republican favors the plan.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.