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Developers bullish on Southern Nevada’s new infrastructure

The new infrastructure being built in Las Vegas is destined to fill the few open slots on the city’s calendar of events in the years ahead, a panel at UNLV concurred.

Representatives of Caesars Entertainment Corp., the Raiders and the Penta Building Group said the city’s new emphasis on professional sports and the meetings and conventions industry will drive the city’s economy as diverse, new products enter the market.

And Las Vegas will have a distinct advantage against competitors, D Las Vegas and Golden Gate CEO Derek Stevens said, because downtown Las Vegas and the Strip are compact and visitors can easily move from experience to experience unlike other cities.

Stevens, who is building downtown’s newest resort, Circa, said places like Southern California have numerous attractions like Disneyland, the beach and several professional sports teams, but their distance from each other can be a detriment to visitors.

Panelists discussed their optimism — and some of their fears — in the day-long “Road to 2020” presentation Thursday that was part of the UNLV Gaming and Hospitality Education Series at the university’s International Gaming Institute.

“There won’t be any lulls after Thanksgiving,” said panel moderator Nehme Abouzeid, president of LaunchVegas, a tourism-centered business consultancy. “These next few years are going to be a marketing manager’s dream.”

Mark Shearer, chief revenue officer of the Raiders, said the addition of the new $1.8 billion Las Vegas stadium to the city not only will add home football dates for the NFL team and UNLV, but the several new concert dates for entertainers who only play stadiums and not arena venues. Shearer said Las Vegas has been skipped over by some acts because of the lack of a venue.

Panelist Michael Massari, chief sales officer of Caesars Entertainment, said the new 550,000-square-foot Caesars Forum convention center being built near the Linq, will enable Las Vegas to build on its reputation as one of the nation’s best convention hosts.

Massari isn’t worried that the city’s new convention facilities will cannibalize each other. The Las Vegas Convention Center and Wynn Resorts Ltd. are each adding new exhibit halls, Wynn a 400,000-square-foot facility and the LVCVA, a 600,000-square-foot building. MGM Resorts International already has expanded its meeting space.

He expects meetings and conventions to grow because demand is high.

Shows staged in Las Vegas generally attract around 10 percent more attendance than events staged in other cities, according to the LVCVA.

Stevens said entertainment hasn’t taken a back seat to anticipated growth.

While Stevens admitted that he’s bullish on Southern Nevada’s economic growth, he does have some concerns for the future.

He said he worries about the potential for higher airfares putting a strain on Las Vegas visitation in the future thanks to increased demand.

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

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