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Ex-UNLV star proposes Strip arena

Former UNLV and NBA basketball player Jackie Robinson is proposing a $1.3 billion, privately funded 22,000-seat arena and resort on the Strip. The $1.3 billion includes $690 million for the arena.

Robinson is calling it, for now, the All Net Arena and Resort, because he does not have an official name for the venue. He said he plans to pursue an arena naming rights deal. His company is All Net Arena LLC, he said.

Robinson wants to build between the under-construction SLS Las Vegas hotel-casino and the halted Fontainebleau project. He hopes to break ground in the spring and open the arena in December 2016.

Robinson said he is financing the arena-resort through a $250 million equity raise, federal tax credits, a construction loan and the federal “EB-5 visa” program, which allows foreign investors to get visas if they invest $500,000 in projects. He said he is working with the Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency to recruit foreign investors from India and China.

Robinson is pitching a venue with a retractable roof, which is unusual for an arena. Sports venues that have retractable roofs in the U.S. include football stadiums (four in the National Football League) and baseball parks (six in Major League Baseball). Arena roofs are designed to accommodate overhead rigging and sound/lighting equipment for indoor entertainment programming.

The architect of the proposed arena, Brett Ewing of Cuningham Group Architecture, said tresses in the arena would support rigging and equipment.

Another arena is planned for the Strip. MGM Resorts International and AEG are partnering in a $350 million 20,000-seat arena behind New York, New York. Groundbreaking is expected in April or May, with a projected opening 22 months later in spring 2016.

MGM has no comment on the rival project, spokesman Gordon Absher said.

Robinson said he will try to bring an NBA team to his arena as a tenant. Robinson, 58, played with the Seattle SuperSonics, Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls from 1978-82. He said he is using his contacts with NBA Basketball Operations President Rod Thorn and Kiki Vandeweghe, NBA vice president of basketball operations, to lobby for an NBA team.

Robinson also proposes to build a 300,000-square-foot promenade called Victory Plaza to lead visitors from the Strip to the venue. The proposed 27-acre resort includes a 500-suite boutique hotel, restaurant, stores and a spa.

Robinson said he will meet with Clark County commissioners next month to explain his proposal and submit plans to the county by the end of January.

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