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Monorail’s new sponsorship program focuses on sustainability

Updated September 9, 2019 - 4:46 pm

The Las Vegas Monorail Co. will add an environmental twist to a successful revenue generating plan later this month.

A plan for companies to sponsor stations and wrap trains with advertising helped monorail company finances for seven years before the program was discontinued with the onset of the Great Recession.

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 the 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.

Zero emissions

This time, Pharris plans to capitalize on the monorail’s environmental characteristics to convince companies with sustainability programs to pin their environmental message to the 3.9-mile zero-emissions electric transit system.

The system is working to secure climate-conscious sponsors to create informative and entertaining experiential environments on each of the system’s seven stations and nine trains, Pharris said.

“The Las Vegas Monorail is one of the most climate-friendly public transit systems in America,” Curtis Myles, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Monorail Co., said in a release.

“During the past 15 years, we’ve carried more than 87 million passengers, removed more than 30 million vehicle miles from Las Vegas resort corridor-area roadways, and 462 tons of carbon monoxide and other volatile compounds from the atmosphere,” he said. “This new sponsorship program highlights the system’s environmental benefits, furthers our contribution to the reduction of climate change, and responds to our customers’ interests.”

It’s unclear whether the sale of sponsorships would encourage Gov. Steve Sisolak to reconsider a plan to secure up to $200 million in tax-exempt bonds to pay off existing debts, extend the monorail route by about a mile to Mandalay Bay and construct new stations there and at the MSG Sphere, now under construction near The Venetian. Myles said the company already qualifies for a loan to begin a new station near The Venetian and the future Sphere site.

The planned extension would provide new mass transit access to a station that would be within walking distance of the 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium, which will become home to the Las Vegas Raiders and UNLV’s football team in 2020.

Two separate projects

In an interview Monday, Myles said the company is preparing to separate the extension to Mandalay Bay and the development of a station near the Sands Expo 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, 17,000-seat spherical performance venue. Myles believes the station could be completed in time for the opening of the venue in 2021 and cost around $15 million to $18 million.

The station would be built in conjunction with Madison Square Garden Company’s pedestrian bridge linking the Sands Expo Center with the Sphere.

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. When the financing would be completed will be up to the lender, Myles said.

“He (Pharris) kind of jumped on it right away and came back a few weeks later and said, ‘We should put together a program that requires advertisers to enhance what the monorail company already does in terms of green transportation,’” Myles said.

Myles said revenue generated by the program will create reserves and help with the company’s cash flow. Revenue generated isn’t necessary to close on the financing of the Sands station. Myles said a loan for that portion of the project is expected to be completed within a few weeks.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. The Sphere is a project by the Madison Square Garden Company and Las Vegas Sands Corp.

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

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