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LVCVA vote on Convention Center upgrade will be a slam-dunk

Asked after a meeting this month for a prediction about how the vote would go on the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board of directors’ consideration of the $1.4 billion Las Vegas Convention Center expansion and renovation, LVCVA board member Chuck Bowling said he had none.

Bowling, an MGM Resorts International executive who chaired the seven-member Las Vegas Convention Center District committee charged with making a recommendation to the full board, had to have been playing possum.

He knows, just like everybody who will be in the LVCVA board chambers for the final vote Tuesday, what’s going to happen: a no-doubt, slam-dunk unanimous approval.

Confidence has to be high considering the Oversight Panel for Convention Facilities in Clark County unanimously endorsed the project in late May and six members of the committee — one of the seven was absent — voted in favor of the affirmative recommendation this month.

In the earliest days of the process, there was some doubt about just how influential the Oversight Panel would be. Against the objections of some board members, the Nevada Legislature approved the panel’s formation last year. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman was worried that adding a new level of bureaucracy could bog down the entire process.

But to its credit, the panel did its job as independent reviewers of the project. It did slow the process slightly and added cost — some members of the panel went to San Diego, Orlando and Atlanta to have a personal look at convention facilities there. The LVCVA is all about using hands-on research to make its case, so there was no problem finding money for those trips.

So what’s next for the project?

Once the LVCVA board rubber-stamps the recommendation Tuesday, the LVCVA will put out a request for qualifications on design teams next month. Based on the response, a request for proposals will be issued in August. A two-month “design competition” will occur in September and October, leading up to selection of the design team in November.

While the design competition is underway, the LVCVA will issue a request for qualifications for a construction manager from early September to mid-October. A request for proposals for the construction manager will occur from mid-October to the end of November, with final selection sometime in December or January.

Then it’s off to the races to build a new 600,000-square-foot exhibition hall that will be placed on what currently is referred to as the Gold and Diamond parking lots, most likely adjacent to the west side of Paradise Road.

Ground will be broken sometime next year, with completion by the end of 2020, in time for CES 2021 in January.

The LVCVA has employed a musical-chairs-style scheduling of renovations of 3.6 million square feet of existing exhibition halls, meeting rooms, lobbies and support space. A 200,000-square-foot north-south connector will add circulation so that conventioneers won’t have to go outside to access the North, Central and South halls.

Never will the Convention Center’s leasable square footage fall below 1.9 million, and when everything is done by 2023, the center will house 2.5 million square feet, second only to Chicago’s McCormick Place.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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