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Nevada regent pushes UNLV stadium dome

James Dean Leavitt wants to keep the dome alive.

Leavitt, a member of the Nevada Board of Regents and the 11-member UNLV stadium board, has asked acting university President Don Snyder to consider the option of adding a dome in the future if the panel recommends an open-air design for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus.

The board majority appears to back a stadium with canopies shading spectators, much like one opening soon at Baylor University in Texas.

Leavitt supports building a domed stadium on the UNLV campus because he argues an enclosed venue will generate more revenue. He said he believes it will be worth it over the long run to invest the extra $300 million.

Indeed, a consultant found that a $832.6 million domed stadium would generate 21 annual non-UNLV football events and attendance of 845,000, compared with a $522.9 million “Baylor option,” which would attract 11 non-UNLV football events and attendance of 372,000.

Leavitt said he wants stadium board consultant Bill Rhoda to price the cost of building an open-air stadium that would be able to take a future dome addition.

“It could be a hybrid approach that pleases everyone,” Leavitt said.

Rhoda said Monday he is unaware of any stadiums designed and built with the later option of taking a dome, but he said he is still checking and should have a cost estimate in time for the Aug. 28 stadium board meeting.

The current options are:

■ The Baylor option, with capacity for 45,000 spectators at $342 million for hard construction costs; $80.9 million for soft costs such as architectural expenses; and $100 million for site and infrastructure.

■ An open-air facility with capacity of 50,000 to 55,000 at $655.2 million — $449 million for hard construction; $106.2 million for soft costs; and $100 million for site and infrastructure.

■ A domed stadium with capacity of 50,000 to 55,000 at $592.5 million for construction; $140.1 million for soft costs; and $100 million for site and infrastructure.

Gaming representatives on the board prefer the least expensive option.

UNLV also is working on a site. An earlier identified site off Swenson Street on the campus’ northwest side won’t work because it would affect take-offs and landings at nearby McCarran International Airport. So university officials are considering a new site next to the Thomas &Mack Center, or off Tropicana Avenue at Koval Lane — off-campus but only a 10-minute walk from UNLV.

The board is required to issue a report to the Legislature by Oct. 1 saying if a stadium is necessary, what type it should be and how it would be paid for.

Contact reporter Alan Snel at asnel@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273. Follow @BicycleManSnel on Twitter.

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