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Thomas & Mack poised to get $47 million face-lift

It’s all quiet in the Thomas &Mack Center during this midday visit.

Mike Newcomb is strolling along an empty concourse at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas venue Wednesday.

The arena’s executive director glances at the gray floor tile that’s a mere eighth-of-an-inch thick. He explains the floor surface is going away. A design team, which walked the floor this week, is working on a new floor pattern.

Then Newcomb visits the concourse’s north end. He looks at a blank section of wall near a women’s restroom entrance and declares the restrooms in that area will be 20 to 30 feet deeper and a new concession stand will be built into the expanded space.

And then he explains that two new escalators will be installed to help the current two at the front entrance — one on the Cox Pavillion side of the arena and another on the opposite of the building.

“The escalators will distribute and help the concourse flow,” he said.

Those arena improvements are just a sampling of the $47 million face-lift and rehab of the 30-year-old arena, which is among the busiest venues for its seating capacity in the world.

While two arena proposals along the Strip and one in downtown draw most public attention for arenas, UNLV is quietly finalizing details to overhaul a facility that hosts everything from Rebels basketball to sold-out national rodeos to kids shows.

UNLV officials pulled together the arena overhaul proposal in autumn 2012 and hope to complete the project in early 2016, Newcomb said. Klai Juba is project architect; Woods Bagot is construction manager.

The arena rehab work might appear to be timed so that the venue is in prime shape to compete against the new MGM Resorts International-AEG arena scheduled to also open in 2016 behind New York-New York on the Strip.

A major chunk of the improvements won’t even be seen by fans. The university is spending $20 million to $22 million of the $47 million on mechanical upgrades such as replacing 30-year-old air handlers and water boilers. The electrical system will also be tested, with aluminum wiring changed to copper.

What fans will see will be 8,000 new lower bowl seats at a cost of $3 million, while Americans With Disabilities Act improvements include increasing the number of seats for physically disabled to 101 from 26, Newcomb said.

The concourse and its more than 150 points of sale will get a major sprucing with rebranded signs and new equipment at the concession stands. Newcomb expects the number of concessions spots to increase by 10 percent.

Energy costs are expected to decrease because new air conditioning, hot water and lighting equipment will be installed, Newcomb said.

And Newcomb expects a 10 percent increase in the number of points of sale along the concourse from the arena improvements. That will generate more revenue for the arena. Meanwhile, operating expenses are expected to drop because of the new air systems and equipment.

Thomas &Mack has about 100 event days a year, he said.

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

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