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Henderson OKs $60M in bonds that could pay for hockey arena

Updated April 21, 2020 - 6:10 pm

The Henderson City Council on Tuesday authorized the issuance of $60 million in bonds, paving the way for a funding agreement for a new minor league hockey arena.

The City Council voted 4-1 in favor of the bonds, which could partially be used to replace the Henderson Pavilion with a 6,000-seat arena. The proposed venue would host home games for the future American Hockey League affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Approval came despite staunch opposition from a number of Henderson residents.

“There are so many much more important and pressing issues before the city that need our undivided attention,” Ward 4 Councilman Dan Stewart said at the meeting.

Stewart, the lone council member to vote against the bonds, has said he wanted to wait to see the fiscal effects of the coronavirus crisis. He said he has family opposed to the proposal.

The bonds could pay for multiple projects, including a police substation in west Henderson.

The arena project, announced at Henderson’s annual State of the City address in February, drew the ire of some residents who live in the area.

At subsequent meetings, residents complained about how the arena would change the neighborhood and increase traffic. They later expressed concerns with the fiscal effects on the city in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the Henderson Symphony Orchestra board submitted a letter supporting an indoor venue. More than 100 people signed the letter.

Before an arena can be built, the project must get its own approval by the council. The city has said an agreement with the Knights is slated for consideration May 19.

Henderson Mayor Debra March has said the city would contribute up to $40 million in public money for the arena, but the city has since backed off that figure, calling it premature. Officials have not announced an anticipated price for the arena.

The city has said approval of the bonds will take advantage of low interest rates, stimulate the economy and create jobs. Taxes would not increase by taking on the debt, according to the city.

Ward 1 Councilwoman Michelle Romero said the city has a history of fiscal responsibility.

“We’re not going to move forward with issuing bonds if the situation hasn’t stabilized enough that it makes sense to do so,” Romero said during the meeting. She said the pavilion is a “money pit” and cannot stay the way it is now.

The city said the Henderson Pavilion, built in 2002, is in need of upgrades because it has a failing sound system and seats, and a canopy that was removed last year because of damage cannot be replaced.

Officials say the arena would provide year-round entertainment for Henderson residents, with minor league hockey being just one piece of that.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.

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