UNLV stadium board advised to hire project manager

UNLV officials want the new stadium board to hire a project manager by early 2014 to help guide the 11-member panel on crafting a stadium feasibility report that needs to be submitted to the state Legislature by Sept. 30.

That was the biggest development on the UNLV stadium front to emerge from the stadium board’s three-hour session Thursday. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas wants an on-campus stadium through a partnership with the Las Vegas resort industry.

The project manager — an individual who could hire a team of consultants — would help the panel look into the stadium’s size, whether it should be covered, and the financing. The board’s work committee will tackle the bidding process for the project manager.

The bulk of the meeting was devoted to former stadium consultants summarizing the university’s previous attempt at getting the venue project off the ground.

Consultant Mark Rosentraub from the University of Michigan returned to repeat his contention that a new stadium could attract 15 new events a year, generating $393 million in new money for the Las Vegas market.

A panel of those consultants, with Rossi Ralenkotter, Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority president and chief executive; Pat Christenson, Las Vegas Events president; and Rob Dondero, executive vice president of R&R Partners, the LVCVA’s advertising consultant, delved into questions surrounding the need for a new on-campus stadium.

Ralenkotter’s appearance was noteworthy because the LVCVA officials have not commented significantly about UNLV’s attempt at a new stadium. UNLV pushed the reset button on its stadium initiative after cutting ties to its previous development partner, Majestic Realty, earlier this year.

At Thursday’s session, Ralenkotter advised the stadium authority to study what other tourism-based cities such as Orlando, Fla., are doing to beef up its stadium venues and when potential events could be held at a stadium because the big calendar holes in Las Vegas are June, July, August and December. He also advised the stadium board to talk with potential stadium customers to learn their needs.

Ralenkotter told the committee the LVCVA spends $18 million annually to sponsor events to be staged in Las Vegas.

Dondero said that not only is there a cost to recruit and deliver events to a potential campus stadium, there is also the cost to promote the events. “There needs to be a lot more questions” about the stadium, Dondero told the Review-Journal after the meeting.

Christenson, whose organization tries to recruit, stage and promote events in Las Vegas and is financed by the LVCVA, advised that the most important element for an event producer is the fan experience at the venue.

He also warned the board that an open-air stadium would mean fewer events.

“You’d have to adjust the number (of events), and it would be lower,” he said.

A theme that was repeated was that the stadium’s home tenant was not UNLV’s football team but Las Vegas’ hospitality and resort industry. And a goal of building a stadium on campus would be to fill hotel rooms during slow times during mid-weeks and summer months.

Contact Alan Snel at asnel@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273.