Mayor’s itinerary might be clue to arena plans

For those following Southern Nevada’s competing sports arena plans, here’s something to keep an eye on: whether Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman goes to Europe in October.

That’s when NBA executives will cross the pond while teams play exhibition games in Paris, London, Berlin and Barcelona. If Las Vegas is near to closing an arena deal by then, Goodman said he will be joining them.

“If you see me gone for about five days, then you’ll know I believe that we’re close to a site and the financing,” he said Thursday. “If you see me sticking around, we’re not as close as I would like to be.”

Las Vegas has been seeking a downtown arena for professional basketball or hockey for some time. The city ended talks with would-be developers REI Neon earlier this year, although Goodman said Thursday that the group was still trying to get its project off the ground.

The city now is negotiating with the Cordish Co., a Baltimore-based developer of arenas and casinos, and the owners of the Stratosphere casino to build an arena on 17 acres next to the Stratosphere.

Another possibility is the 12 acres owned by the city at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Stewart Avenue, across the street from City Hall.

A race is on, though, because Harrah’s and Anschutz Entertainment Group are still negotiating an arena that would be built behind the Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas casinos, immediately off the Strip. The completion date for that project has been moved back to 2011.

Part of Las Vegas’ negotiations involve using downtown redevelopment bonds to help finance Cordish’s project. That will have to be examined because the city already is using some of its bond capacity for Union Park and for the so-called “Mob Museum.”

“These are tough economic times. Only an idiot would not know that these are rough times,” Goodman said. “Right now, the only thing that’s really successful in the city is our redevelopment agency. We’re looking at our bonding capacity there.

“Hopefully, we will beat everybody to the punch.”


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