Aspiring arena developer Chris Milam took a step toward acquiring the land he needs to build a major sports and entertainment venue in Henderson.
Milam’s Silver State Land, LLC, on Monday was the winning bidder in the auction of about 480 acres of Bureau of Land Management property near M Resort.
The $10.5 million bid came with a $2.1 million certified check, leaving Milam until Dec. 3 to come up with the balance.
Milam spokeswoman Lee Haney called the auction a "major milestone" in the effort to build the project.
Haney reiterated Milam’s promise to break ground by the end of the year, assuming he finalizes a loan for $650 million from the Chinese company CSST Smart Cities International.
"If we have the loan in place, we can break ground," Haney said.
The winning bid keeps Milam’s group alive as potential arena developers, but there is no assurance they will close the deal.
For starters, Milam’s group has until March to show there will be enough tenants to make the project viable.
Dennis Porter, Henderson’s director of utility services, said for the city to consider issuing bonds it would need a commitment from an NBA team and other events that could generate enough revenue to repay the debt.
"If we don’t have those things in place, we will never issue those bonds," Porter said.
Milam has provided city officials with a memorandum of understanding that said CSST would agree to finance up to $650 million for 42 months. That would allow for time to transition to long-term financing in the form of bonds to be repaid, in large part, with a 12 percent to 16 percent fee applied to tickets, food, beverages and other sales at the venue.
But Porter said city officials need more details about the proposed financing than what’s in the memorandum.
"Frankly, in my mind, the city doesn’t have anything official from the developer that has this agreement laid out," Porter said.
Also, Porter said a portion of the agreement that suggests bond financing is a done deal is premature.
"It says the city is going to issue these bonds and we’ve gone back and said, ‘Maybe we will, maybe we won’t,’ " Porter said.
The Henderson proposal, with a first phase that Milam said is a 17,500-seat arena, is one of several from the developer.
Milam has proposed other stadium or arena projects in Las Vegas, on the Strip and near Interstate 15 at Russell Road, but none has come to fruition.
Milam was behind a 2006 proposal to build on the Strip what would have been one of the tallest buildings in the United States, a project that never materialized.
Milam is facing a $1.1 million judgment related to a condominium project he sought to develop. The judgment is under appeal.
The Henderson proposal is one of at least three potential stadium projects in the Las Vegas area.
UNLV Now, a group that includes Silverton casino President Craig Cavileer and Los Angeles developer Ed Roski, is seeking to build a football stadium on the campus of University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Caesars Entertainment is behind another proposal to use a portion of sales tax on the Strip to fund an arena on property near the Imperial Palace, but it would require approval of a statewide ballot initiative in November.
Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0285.