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More stadium sites up for review by special tourism panel

At a special tourism infrastructure meeting intended to narrow the field of prospective stadium sites, the list of potential locations instead grew on Monday.

The project’s estimated cost increased as well, to as much as $2.1 billion, which could lead to the creation of an expanded special tax improvement district to pay for the dome.

As a result, the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee will ask Gov. Brian Sandoval for an additional two months to consider the stadium plans, Chairman Steve Hill said Monday.

If the panel isn’t granted extra time, its recommendations to Sandoval are due by the end of this month.

Developments at Monday’s meeting will make it difficult for the committee to conclude its work in three weeks.

■ Representatives of a private-public partnership headed by Las Vegas Sands Corp., Majestic Realty and the NFL’s Oakland Raiders introduced three new potential sites for a domed stadium in addition to six that already have been in play: 62 acres west of Mandalay Bay and Interstate 15; more than 139 acres at the Wynn Golf Club, east of Wynn Las Vegas and Wynn Encore; and 27 acres at the former site of the Wet n’ Wild water park south of the SLS Las Vegas.

Those new sites are in addition to a site at Tropicana Avenue and Koval Lane, the initial favorite for the project; a site on the UNLV campus near the Thomas & Mack Center; more than 100 acres on Tropicana about a half-mile west of I-15 that currently houses the Wild Wild West casino; the former site of the Riviera hotel, now owned by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority; the Rock in Rio festival site at Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue owned by MGM Resorts International; and Cashman Center in downtown Las Vegas.

A Sands representative said there could soon be a 10th site in play. Rob Goldstein, the company’s chief operating officer, said he received a call on a new proposal just before Monday’s meeting. He didn’t disclose the location but said it was near the Strip.

■ The cost of the project could go up substantially if developers switch to a site that isn’t controlled by UNLV, which hopes to use the stadium for its football program and prefers a site close to campus.

Depending on how much property is needed, developers said the cost could rise from the $1.45 billion previously under consideration to between $1.7 billion and $2.1 billion.

Sands, Majestic and the Raiders project needing $1.1 billion for stadium construction; $230 million to $350 million for “soft costs” associated with the surrounding land; zero to $250 million for land acquisition; $115 million to $150 million for parking and off-site infrastructure; $100 million for a Raiders practice facility; and $115 million as a contingency.

■ The developers also confirmed that they are eyeing a retractable roof for the 65,000-seat stadium. That could add an estimated $50 million to the cost of the building.

■ A presentation from the developers said recent stadium projects indicate a Las Vegas dome would require between 50 and 64 acres: 14 to 16 acres for the stadium; 10 to 12 acres for a plaza abutting it; 20 to 30 acres for onsite or adjacent parking; depending on whether it’s surface or structured parking; and 6 acres for circulation.

■ Committee members also are looking closely at the possibility of paying for the public’s share of the project through tax increment financing. That would require the formation of a special tax improvement district that diverts sales, live-entertainment and modified business taxes from the state general fund.

Committee members have considered establishing a special district to include only the stadium and practice facility. But some committee members are now looking at broadening the district geographically, especially if the property owners that would lease the space for the stadium are considering adding surrounding amenities such as hotels and restaurants.

 

Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, a member of the committee, said some of the larger proposed stadium sites, like the Wild Wild West, Rock in Rio and the Wynn Golf Club, would make ideal special district revenue generators.

The Raiders have promised to seek NFL approval for the relocation of the franchise from Oakland to Las Vegas if a stadium plan is approved by the Nevada Legislature.

The tourism infrastructure committee was formed by Sandoval to make recommendations on major projects that will bolster Southern Nevada’s tourism economy.

The panel’s recommendations are not binding but are intended to reflect a consensus of the gaming industry and local governments. Planning a new stadium that’s close to the Strip, to replace the east valley’s outdated Sam Boyd Stadium, has become the committee’s showcase task.

With all the new information about the stadium proposal unveiled Monday, it was easy to overlook an important decision reached by the committee: In a unanimous vote, the committee approved a recommendation on the financing and oversight of $1.4 billion in bonding for expansion and improvements to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Under the terms of the recommendation, the Legislature would be asked to add a 0.5 percentage point to the room tax rate, which ranges from 10 percent to 12 percent, depending on a property’s location.

Committee members spent about an hour debating two alternatives on the governance of the project by an oversight panel.

In the end, the committee recommended the formation of a seven-member oversight committee appointed by the governor following nominations from county commissioners, City Council members, the state Senate majority leader, the speaker of the Assembly and the Nevada Resort Association.

The oversight panel would review every aspect of the expansion and improvement project, but any action it takes could be overridden by a two-thirds majority of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Board of Directors. The LVCVA board also could seek reconsideration of a panel action with a majority vote. The tourism infrastructure committee is next scheduled to meet July 28.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

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

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