Las Vegas won't get a sports arena without some kind of contribution from public financing, Mayor Oscar Goodman said Thursday, and he acknowledged that the position could be a tough one to sell to the public.
The city is in "daily communication" with Cordish Co., a developer looking to build an arena and entertainment complex in downtown Las Vegas, Goodman said.
But they are "far apart" on the amounts to be invested by the company and the potential public contribution, he added.
If the numbers ever firm up, he said there should be a ballot question to "let the public decide whether they want to be a world-class city or whether they want to go to Los Angeles."
It's about more than bringing a professional basketball or hockey team to Las Vegas: Events such as the National Finals Rodeo could be lured to other venues more easily if the valley's venues become out of date, he said.
"The study that we had showed that we don't even need a team. It makes more money without a team," Goodman said. "It makes more money as a civic arena. I myself would like to see a major league team. It makes economic sense even without that."
Clark County commissioners recently dismissed three arena proposals on or near the Strip because all of them wanted tax money to pay for part of the projects.
They also decided not to ask voters what they thought of the arena proposals and how they should be financed.
While many people like the idea of a new arena, most want it to be completely privately funded, Goodman said.
"I'm saying there are no free lunches," he said. "With that kind of attitude, with that kind of philosophy, we'll never have an arena. End of story."
The same snag came up two years ago with an arena proposal put forth by REI Neon, which sought to build an arena and entertainment center near Charleston Boulevard and Main Street.
That complex was projected to cost about $1 billion to build. REI Neon offered to put in $600 million, but the highest Las Vegas would go was $200 million.
At the time, Goodman and city redevelopment head Scott Adams said the city didn't want to put all of its eggs in one basket -- that is, there are limits to what the city can commit to help redevelopment downtown, and they didn't want one project to soak up all of the resources.
Contact reporter Alan Choate at email@example.com or 702-229-6435.