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Ex-NBA player faces vote on long-stalled Strip arena and hotel project

Updated April 20, 2021 - 4:01 pm

Former NBA player Jackie Robinson has filed more paperwork for his long-stalled Las Vegas real estate project, clearing the way for a vote to keep the massive proposal alive.

The Clark County Commission is scheduled Wednesday to consider certain agreements for Robinson’s envisioned north Strip arena and hotel development, which has been on the drawing board for more than seven years.

Robinson’s proposed development agreement describes various responsibilities, such as paying the county for firefighting-related services and to provide nearby bus turnouts, while his performance agreement outlines the cost to secure the site if Robinson abandons the project.

This decommissioning plan, as it’s also known, is estimated to cost around $11.6 million, including $5 million to complete remaining work needed to make the project site safe, $342,500 to enclose the property with an 8-foot-high wooden fence, and $100,000 to dismantle and remove cranes, county documents show.

Robinson is furnishing a $12 million-plus bond to cover the costs and any additional unforeseen expenses.

Big plans

The 65-year-old former UNLV basketball player has been pursuing the 27-acre project for years, with no visible progress beyond some initial excavation work, leaving the property a giant hole in the ground.

Plans have called for a 22,000-seat arena, 44-story and 63-story nongaming hotels, conference space, restaurants, a bowling alley, a movie theater and more.

Robinson has said the project, located between Sahara Las Vegas and the unfinished former Fontainebleau, would cost nearly $3 billion and that he is “1,000 percent” committed to building it.

He declined to comment to the Review-Journal on Tuesday but indicated he would issue a statement after Wednesday’s hearing.

‘Everybody hear that?’

Robinson announced plans in late 2013 to build an arena with a retractable roof and a luxury hotel. At the time, he said the project, on the former Wet ‘n’ Wild water park site, would cost $1.3 billion and was slated to open in late 2016.

County commissioners approved project plans in 2014 and a big expansion of his proposed development in 2017. But the property has largely stayed quiet, and the commission gave Robinson an ultimatum this past October when it voted to give him until April to complete the bond and the performance and development agreements.

At that October hearing, Commissioner Tick Segerblom, whose district includes the project site, said that it was “time to fish or cut bait,” that the panel was giving Robinson his “last six months,” and that if the developer didn’t file the paperwork in time, “it’s over.”

“If you can’t do this, let’s open it up so somebody else can come in and take advantage of that property,” Segerblom said at the hearing.

After Robinson finalized his development agreement, commissioners introduced an ordinance April 7 to consider adopting the pact. Nancy Amundsen, the county’s director of comprehensive planning, said at the hearing that if the bond and the performance agreement weren’t ready for the commission’s April 21 meeting, Robinson’s project application “will be considered expired.”

“Everybody hear that?” Segerblom replied.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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