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Las Vegas Monorail says it has financing for Sphere station

Updated October 10, 2019 - 5:24 pm

The Las Vegas Monorail Co. has taken the first step toward providing passenger access to a new attraction in the city — the MSG Sphere at The Venetian — by securing long-term financing for expansion.

The company operating the 3.9-mile, zero-emissions electric transit system announced Thursday that it will receive $33.6 million in financing for the construction of a new station at Sands Avenue near Koval Lane. The station would provide a direct connection to the Sands Expo Center, The Venetian and Palazzo resorts and to the MSG Sphere, the 17,500-seat entertainment venue under construction.

The transaction is part of the company’s expansion program, which will include a later expansion to the Mandalay Bay resort with proximity to Allegiant Stadium.

Financing was secured through Dallas-based Preston Hollow Capital. The company’s portfolio includes investment deals with the Richmond University Medical Center, Eastern Michigan University and the Irving, Texas, Convention Center Hotel.

“The completion of this initial financing is an important and necessary step in our expansion strategy for this system, which already provides substantial mobility benefits along our busy resort corridor,” Las Vegas Monorail Co. CEO Curtis Myles said in a statement announcing the financing plan. “With two new stations, we will multiply those benefits for our customers, resort partners, sponsors and our community.”

Last month, Myles said the company was preparing to separate the extension to Mandalay Bay and the development of a station near the Sands Expo and Convention Center into two projects.

The less-extensive Sands station project would access a pedestrian bridge with a connector that would lead to the MSG Sphere, a first-of-its-kind performance venue being developed by The Madison Square Garden Co.

At the time, Myles said he expected the new station would cost around $15 million to $18 million to build.

The extension of the monorail line south to Mandalay Bay and a new station there would be more extensive, costing between $90 million and $100 million, Myles said.

Myles said about $13 million of the $33.6 million in financing would pay for Sands station. About $20 million will be dedicated to paying off an existing short-term note, to establish a debt-service reserve fund, to pay the company back for some capital costs associated with the expansion project and to pay financing costs.

Last month, the monorail company also announced a new sponsorship program led by Pharris Media to promote its green advertising initiative. The private, nonprofit transit system has contracted with Pharris Media Inc. to sell station sponsorships and turn monorail trains into moving billboards.

The monorail company will continue to sell its own advertising aboard trains and at stations but will rely on Pharris to handle station sponsorships and train wraps.

Terms of that deal were not disclosed. Pharris Media President and CEO Patrick Pharris, working at the time with the now-defunct Promethean Partners LLC, led a successful sponsorship and advertising campaign that raised millions of dollars for the system from 2000 to 2007.

With the addition for the monorail, the expanded eight-station system would be connected to more than 30,000 hotel rooms and more than 8 million square feet of convention space by the time it is completed.

In August, Gov. Steve Sisolak declined to sign a certificate that would allow the Las Vegas Monorail Co. to secure up to $200 million in tax-exempt bonds, a decision that officials had indicated could affect the transit system’s plan to build two new stations on the Strip.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates the Sands Expo and Convention Center, The Venetian and Palazzo and is a partner in the Sphere project.

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

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