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Experts say Strip could lengthen, speculate on future growth

Updated August 19, 2022 - 9:03 am

Could the Las Vegas Strip grow longer with major sports venues bookending it on the north and south ends?

It’s possible, according to two gaming industry experts who addressed members of NAIOP Southern Nevada, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.

Alan Feldman, distinguished fellow at UNLV’s International Gaming Institute and former executive with MGM Resorts International, and Josh Swissman, founding partner of Las Vegas-based Strategy Organization, discussed the future of the Strip in an hour-long presentation for the 635-member NAIOP group at The Orleans.

Feldman said it’s possible in the distant future that the Strip could extend south all the way to the M Resort at Las Vegas Boulevard and St. Rose Parkway.

But over the next decade, Blue Diamond Road and Warm Springs Drive could be the southern ending point of the Strip with the new resort and NBA-ready 20,000-seat arena under development by Tim Leiweke’s Oak View Group.

“If you look at the track record that Tim Leiweke and his colleagues have, I have a feeling that we’re going to see a slightly different variant, sort of Resorts World 2, at that part of the Strip,” Feldman said in an interview following the presentation. “They’re just going to have to have an NBA team there, which I think is to everyone’s benefit.”

Meanwhile, Swissman said the prospect of an MLB stadium near Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue could extend the Strip north.

Executives with the Oakland A’s have been in talks with Phil Ruffin, owner of Circus Circus and the 37-acre Las Vegas Festival Grounds land on the southwest corner of that intersection.

The A’s have been given permission by MLB to explore the possibility of relocating as they negotiate for a $1 billion stadium within a $12 billion mixed-use development at Howard Terminal on the Oakland waterfront.

New hotel towers

Swissman also expects the north end of the Strip to be a development hotspot with the Fontainebleau resort opening next year.

“You will definitely see new hotel towers pop up from existing operators, whether that’s Resorts World building out their second phase — which is just as big as the first — or you see it doesn’t take too much speculation to think that the Seminole Tribe and the Hard Rock on The Mirage property build additional hotel rooms for a bunch of different reasons,” Swissman said.

“You will see more development on existing operator land and you’ll also see, in my opinion, a better public transportation system on and around the Strip,” he said. “The Monorail was the beginning of that thought process, but with the (Vegas) Loop (an underground transit system being developed by Elon Musk’s the Boring Co.) being what it is and the aggressive growth plans that they have, I think the way you get up and down the Strip now will look widely different from how you do it 10 years from now.”

Feldman believes a baseball stadium is a possibility on the North Strip.

“I think the baseball situation is very much in play in spite of what’s going on in Oakland,” Feldman said. “I’ve yet to hear anyone in Oakland step forward with a financing plan, whereas here, there are a couple of either individuals or companies that could simply make a decision that they want a baseball stadium on their development. Baseball stadiums, while expensive, aren’t as expensive as a brand-new hotel. I think there is a greater likelihood than not that the A’s will come here.”

Water limits

Feldman cautioned that further development of the Strip could be curtailed by water shortages, even though the resort industry has a good track record for conservation.

“At some point, water is going to be a limiting factor,” Feldman said. “It almost already is. The only thing that allows these big hotels to survive is the fact that they’ve invested so much in technology and the sustainability of each property that the Strip currently altogether accounts for something like 10 percent of the water used in the entire county. So it’s not the big hotels that are major water users. The reality is they’re actually very efficient. “

Other highlights of the presentation:

— Noting the city’s adaptation to always-changing visitor demographics to maintain its edge, Feldman urged local residents to be sure to get a last look at The Mirage’s volcano — an attraction he always believed would be a permanent Strip landmark. Hard Rock International announced it would replace the volcano with a guitar-shaped hotel tower in the near future.

— Swissman and Feldman believe the arrival of a Formula One race on the Strip next year will bolster its position as an international sports destination. Like the Formula One races that occurred at Caesars Palace in the early 1980s, they expect the new race will be heard across the valley.

— The evolution of the Strip as “the greatest carnival midway in the world,” according to Feldman, included the major transition of replacing inexpensive – and awful – food offerings with experiences provided by world-renowned chefs.

— Neither expert was surprised by Caesars Entertainment Inc.’s turnaround of wanting to divest itself of a Strip asset, announced two years ago, to its recent decision to “tap the brakes” on selling a property until the company could maximize profits in a transaction.

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

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