Nine companies from across the U.S. have submitted bids in hopes of winning the job of project manager for a UNLV panel charged with evaluating the need, size, cost and funding of a proposed on-campus sports and entertainment venue.
Under state purchasing rules, the evaluation of the stadium project manager finalists will be kept secret. The public is shut out because the state session when the finalists are evaluated, scored and ranked is secret. Even the identities of the members of the state evaluation committee are unknown.
Regent Cedric Crear, one of the 11 UNLV stadium board members, was not pleased with the process’ secrecy. At Thursday’s stadium board meeting, Crear described the process as “public procurement that is private.”
It’s also unclear whether the state evaluation committee will make a recommendation of a single bid winner or offer three or four finalists for the UNLV stadium board to consider. UNLV is trying to work with state purchasing officials to figure that out and should know by next week, said Gerry Bomotti, UNLV senior vice president for finance and business.
In an interview with the Review-Journal Friday, Crear said, “You don’t know who’s doing the judging and (then) someone wins. …Who knows how they’re making the determination.”
The nine bidders are:
■ Barrett Sports Group, LLC from Manhattan Beach, Calif.
■ BW Realty Advisors LLC from Washington, D.C.
■ Convention Sports &Leisure International from Plano, Texas
■ Hammes Company Sports Development from Madison, Wis.
■ JMI Sports LLC from San Diego
■ Jones Lang Lasalle Americas Inc. of Las Vegas
■ Nations/Wright of Scottsdale, Ariz.
■ Price Waterhouse Coopers LLP of Tampa, Fla.
■ Sterling Project Development Group LLC of Flushing, N.Y.
At least three of the companies have done business in Las Vegas.
Sterling has done consulting work for UNLV when the university was working with Majestic Realty on a previous stadium partnership. Richard Browne, a Sterling partner, conducted a due diligence study of the previous stadium proposal, which was a domed, $900 million, 60,000-seat concept.
Bomotti recalled Convention Sports &Leisure contracted with Las Vegas around 2006 for an arenas review. And Price Waterhouse Coopers has conducted accounting work from time to time at UNLV but has not done any sports group work at UNLV, Bomotti said.
The role of the project management company is to guide the stadium board on key questions on whether the new proposed stadium should be covered or not; how many seats the venue should have; construction cost options and funding ideas.
Meanwhile, the stadium panel saw a variety of new and proposed collegiate and professional football stadiums from across the country during a two-hour presentation Thursday. And the consultant who presented the PowerPoint stadium tour advised the members about one central point. No matter the UNLV stadium’s design — roof or no roof — make sure the venue allows views and showcases Las Vegas’ well-known Strip skyline, only a couple of miles away from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus.
“Offer an experience you can’t feel at home,” consultant Mark Rosentraub said. “This is the show. … Make it an iconic venue.”
Rosentraub showed the panel members renderings of several dozen football stadiums, advising the members to take the long 30-year view on the project’s economic implications.
“What happens with the future of the (Las Vegas area) economy rests with UNLV,” said Rosentraub, who receives $300 per hour from UNLV for his consulting work.
Rosentraub explained a new stadium that allows UNLV to play football games during the day as well as at night — combined with Las Vegas’ growing TV market that is the 40th largest in the nation — would appeal to powerful collegiate athletic conferences and their affiliated TV networks. Major conferences such as the Pac-12, Big 12 and Big Ten pay member schools $20 million to $25 million annually in TV revenue. UNLV is receiving about $636,000 in football TV money this year.
Rosentraub said power football conferences usually like stadiums to hold at least 50,000 fans. They also require flexibility in game times to accommodate TV network schedules, which is a factor in why Arizona State University of the Pac-12 is looking at installing a canopy over its stadium to reduce the effect of heat in football games during the afternoon during the early part of the season.
“When that call comes and asks, ‘Can you hold games at flexible times?’ ” Rosentraub said, “you have to be the position to answer affirmatively.”
Rosentraub also recommended what he described as “social spaces” for fans to interact in plazas and tailgate areas and supported a covered facility, suggesting the project manager the board plans to hire offer cost options for different roof designs. Rosentraub suggested a Teflon cover be evaluated.
Besides hearing the Rosentraub report, board members began touching on the dome debate and a few other topics.
Member James Dean Leavitt, a Las Vegas-based lawyer and regent, said it would be worth the $50 million to $100 million extra to pay for a stadium roof.
“I hope we look at this from a 30-year viewpoint,” Leavitt said.
But member Rick Arpin, an MGM Resorts International executive who is working on his company’s arena project for the Strip, questioned that.
“We don’t throw around money. These are huge numbers. That’s a massive number. Is it really $100 million? What do you get for $100 million?” Arpin said.
Another board member from the resort industry, Boyd Gaming’s Paul Chakmak, also raised a funding issue.
“No time has been spent on the funding side,” Chakmak said.
And board member Chris Giunchigliani, a Clark County commissioner, connected the stadium issue with another major UNLV project — a medical school.
“As we contemplate a stadium, part of the conversation has to be a medical school. I just want to put it out there,” Giunchigliani said. She explained the legislation that created the UNLV improvement district board does not limit the panel’s responsibilities to just a football stadium/entertainment center.
None of the other board members responded to Giunchigliani’s idea of tying the medical school to the stadium.
The stadium board is required under state legislation to submit a report on the stadium cost, scope and funding to the Nevada Legislature by Sept. 30. The stadium board’s next meeting is Friday.
Alan Snel can be contacted at 702-387-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Snel on Twitter at @BicycleManSnel.