New UNLV stadium authority board finalized

Two powerful local lawyers — Wynn Resorts general counsel Kim Sinatra and Ultimate Fighting Championship chief legal officer Kirk Hendrick — were appointed Thursday to the UNLV panel that will develop a feasibility, scope, cost estimate and funding proposal for a new on-campus stadium.

Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, picked Sinatra. Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, selected Hendrick.

Thursday’s appointments finalize the line-up of lawyers, gaming industry leaders and business people who make up the 11-member board.

The selection of Sinatra and Hendrick follow Gov. Brian Sandoval’s pick this week of Dallas Haun, Nevada State Bank president and chief executive.

Other board members, selected by the state Regents, are Regents Cedric Crear, who owns an advertising agency, and lawyers James Dean Leavitt and Mike Wixom. UNLV stadium pointman Don Snyder; Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani; Paul Chakmak of Boyd Gaming; Rick Arpin of MGM Resorts International and Sean McBurney of Caesar’s Entertainment.

The board moves right into action at its debut meeting at the Thomas & Mack Center’s Si Redd Room at noon Monday. The meeting — like all board sessions — will be open to the public.

“If it does happen, it can truly change not only the skyline of Las Vegas but the economy of Las Vegas as well,” Hendrick said Thursday.

Haun said he’s excited to learn the facts around the job of trying to build an on-campus venue that needs to be bigger and more modern than the biggest stadium in town, Sam Boyd Stadium. The 36,800-seat facility hosts UNLV football games, motocross events and soccer matches.

“I’m excited to get involved and learn more of the needs of the campus and the needs of the gaming community,” Haun said.

Meeting both the needs of the university and the hotel-casino industry — while building a financially viable stadium — is expected to be a challenge. Earlier this year, UNLV officials pulled the plug on its partnership with private developer Majestic Realty to build a domed, 60,000-seat, $900 million “Mega Events Center” after determining Las Vegas’s casinos needed to be directly involved.

Now they are. With Kirkpatrick picking Sinatra, the resort industry will have executives from four major gaming companies at the table.

Kirkpatrick explained her appointment: “I wanted a female in the gaming industry. . . . (Sinatra) is smart, savvy and knows how this town works.”

Denis said he picked Hendrick because the UFC lawyer is skilled at hammering out details of arena events.

Kirkpatrick also endorsed the board’s make-up, noting the blend of lawyers, resort representatives and financial experts.

“The board is a good mix of people who know what makes an event work,” she said.

Creating the stadium board is part of UNLV’s strategy to reboot construction of a major venue on campus.

After kicking Majestic Realty to the curb, UNLV successfully lobbied the Legislature for a “campus improvement authority” to build the stadium. Kirkpatrick will be at Monday’s meeting to explain the legislative intent. Lawmakers also created an on-campus tax district to capture taxes on sales, but that money alone is not enough to build a new stadium.

The new stadium board must submit a stadium report on cost, scope and funding options to the Legislature by Sept. 30, 2014.

Contact Alan Snel at or 702-387-5273. Follow Snel on Twitter at BicycleManSnel.

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