University of Nevada, Las Vegas officials have dropped their proposed campus site for a possible 50,000-seat stadium because of negative impacts on nearby McCarran International Airport and may look at another campus location next to the Thomas & Mack Center or a nearby 42-acre off-campus parcel at Tropicana Avenue and Koval Lane.
The proposed stadium site off Swenson Street on the campus’ west side had several problems, such as the venue’s height, its alignment with McCarran’s runways, negative impacts on airlines using McCarran and re-location of existing athletic facilities and playing fields, said Gerry Bomotti, UNLV senior vice president for finance and business.
“It’s not a feasible site,” Bomotti said Thursday.
The site’s impact on neighboring McCarran has posed a thorny problem for UNLV officials, who have known from the start of the stadium planning process that the proposed stadium height violated Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards.
Regent and UNLV stadium board member Michael Wixom said a campus stadium location concerned him because a sports and entertainment venue on a landlocked campus would restrict future growth and also the costs of building a stadium lower into the ground to limit the height impact on airport flights would grow exponentially the deeper the stadium was built below the ground level.
“You could build down, but the costs would go up exponentially,” Wixom said Thursday.
Wixom is one of 11 members on a panel charged with evaluating the need, cost and funding of a proposed UNLV stadium. The proposed stadium construction costs range from $490 million for an open-air stadium to $712 million for a retractable-roof stadium, but estimates do not include infrastructure costs, which would be more than $100 million.
The stadium board is required under law to present a stadium report to the state Legislature by Oct. 1.
Bomotti said even if UNLV sunk the stadium deeper into the ground to mitigate the height issue and took steps to address the airport’s concerns, there were other problems, too.
The proposed stadium location off Swenson and Harmon Avenue meant that baseball, softball and soccer fields, and tennis courts would have to be re-located and re-built at another campus location. Bomotti noted that the new light structures for those new athletic fields could potentially cause more airport-impact problems.
“With all these issues, the site is not going to work out,” Bomotti said. He noted these negative impacts were discussed in meetings with airport officials.
The stadium board will now look at another possible campus site — land mostly west and a little south of the Thomas & Mack Center arena. That location, however, would mean that Swenson Street would have to be re-aligned, adding more costs to the stadium project.
Wixom said he liked an alternative location just off-campus down Tropicana Avenue, a short walk from the campus between UNLV and the Strip. Wixom, a partner at the Las Vegas law firm of Smith Larsen & Wixom, said the land is owned by Wells Fargo & Co. after a foreclosure and it might be a better site than an on-campus location because it could provide for better traffic access and less infrastructure costs.
“It would give accessibility and solve the FAA problem,” Wixom said.
The infrastructure costs for a proposed UNLV stadium are no small matter. Under the previous proposed location off Swenson Street, costs for stadium infrastructure for items such as new parking garages, road improvements, pedestrian bridges and athletic field relocations were in the $200 million range.
The alternative off-campus stadium site at Tropicana and Koval could potentially drop the infrastructure costs, but the land would have to be acquired.
Mike Mixer, executive managing director and co-founder of the Colliers International Las Vegas office, said the land was under contract with Majestic Realty last year for $55 million. It was owned by Shoma Homes of Florida before the foreclosure, Mixer said, and is now again available.
The Tropicana/Koval site was considered a Plan B site for a proposed stadium by Majestic Realty, which was UNLV’s previous stadium development partner before UNLV last year cut ties to the development company owned by California billionaire Ed Roski. Majestic committed $360 million to the stadium before it was dumped by UNLV in March 2013.
The stadium board will discuss the stadium site issue at its next meeting at noon on June 19.
Contact reporter Alan Snel at email@example.com or 702-387-5273. Follow @BicycleManSnel on Twitter.