Possible UNLV stadium seen as host for six annual events

The man who recruits events to Las Vegas for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said he’s confident that a new on-campus, open-air UNLV stadium of 50,000-60,000 seats would lure six new annual events, including a Pac-12 or Mountain West conference championship football game.

Pat Christenson, president of Las Vegas Events, discussed the new events a week after a consultant for the UNLV stadium board presented a list of events that he projected could be potentially staged at an on-campus stadium.

CSL consultant Adam Kerns said a new University of Nevada, Las Vegas stadium could potentially host between 39-48 annual events, depending if the new venue was open-air or roofed. The list was a combination of current events at Sam Boyd Stadium including UNLV football games, motorsports and international soccer and rugby matches and new events such as neutral site college football games and Major League Soccer matches.

Christenson identified a half-dozen new events from the CSL consultant list that he believed would be staged at a new open-air on-campus stadium:

■ One touring concert.

■ Either a Pac-12 or Mountain West conference football championship game.

■ Two neutral-site college football games.

■ One NFL pre-season game.

■ One major soccer international friendly game that would be bigger than any previous soccer games at Sam Boyd Stadium.

But like several other stadium board members, Christenson discounted the CSL report’s contention that six music festivals would come annually to a new roofed stadium venue on the UNLV campus.

Christenson said there are already several sites along the Strip that can host major outdoor music festivals, while noting that downtown Las Vegas hosts Life Is Beautiful and Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the home of the Electric Daisy Carnival.

An aim behind building an on-campus stadium would be to create a neutral-site venue that would not compete against the interests of the city’s resort-casino companies such as MGM Resorts International and Caesar’s Entertainment, which are also trying to attract music festivals, Christenson said.

“I don’t think a (UNLV) stadium wants to compete with hotel partners,” Christenson said.

Christenson also was not optimistic about a new UNLV stadium hosting a second bowl game in Las Vegas. Sam Boyd Stadium already is the home of the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl.

But he did say that a new stadium could put Las Vegas in the running to host a college football playoff game under the new four-team championship tournament that goes into effect in 2014.

“Without a new stadium, we have no chance to compete for big-time events like this,” Christenson said.


An NFL spokesman said Wednesday that there is no comment about any talk out of Las Vegas that a potential new UNLV football stadium could host a pre-season NFL game.

“There’s been no league discussion of holding a game there,” spokesman Brian McCarthy said. “Our focus has been on preseason games in teams’ existing stadiums.”

The Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences, however, are very familiar with Las Vegas for sports championship events because both conferences stage their annual conference basketball tournaments in Las Vegas. In fact, a UNLV venue — Thomas &Mack Center — already hosts the Mountain West basketball tournament.

The Mountain West currently stages its conference football championship game at the stadium of the conference’s highest-ranked divisional champion. In last season’s case, Fresno State’s Bulldog Stadium hosted the inaugural Mountain West football championship on Dec. 7.

But Mountain West Conference officials would be willing to consider a new stadium on the UNLV campus if a venue is built.

“The Mountain West membership recently reaffirmed its desire to continue conducting the annual Mountain West Football Championship Game in the home stadium of the highest-ranked divisional champion,” said Bret Gilliland, Mountain West deputy commissioner.

“However, in the event of a new venue in Las Vegas, or any other market in our footprint, I’m sure we would take a hard look at the viability of such an option,” Gilliland said.

But a Pac-12 Conference spokesman said the conference is unaware of the UNLV stadium possibility.

“We often receive proposals from potential sites for the Pac-12 football championship game and review them accordingly. However, we have not had any discussions with this group,” said Erik Hardenbergh, Pac-12 vice president for public affairs.

For all three Pac-12 football championship games from 2011-13, the Pac -12 has staged its title game at the home stadium of the university with the best conference record (2011: Oregon; 2012: Stanford; 2013: Arizona State).


Also on Wednesday, three UNLV stadium board members toured a trio of football stadiums in Texas.

Board chairman Don Snyder, who is the UNLV acting president; Rick Arpin, of MGM Resorts International; and Cedric Crear, a Regent, checked out Baylor University’s new shaded open-air stadium, the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium and Texas Christian University’s stadium.

Contact Alan Snel at asnel@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273. Follow @BicycleManSnel on Twitter.