Silver State Arena plan stays active

With the NBA’s annual owners’ meeting here in four weeks, representatives of the proposed Silver State Arena are moving with urgency on several fronts.

Reps for the arena contacted UNLV last week regarding the possible interim use of the Thomas & Mack Center for an NBA franchise, Vegas Confidential has learned. In a related development, Boyd Group has been contacted by the Silver State Arena group about the possibility of the interim use of The Orleans for an NHL franchise.

An internal NBA committee has been established specifically to evaluate the feasibility of a franchise for Las Vegas, and the NBA owners probably will receive a status update on July 12, the day of the league meetings.

The arena investment group, headed by Christopher Milam, if successful in acquiring NBA and NHL franchises, would relocate them to Las Vegas upon purchase. That would allow the two franchises two seasons to get the organization and players acclimated to the community, develop a fan support base and establish proficient operations. The plan calls for the 20,000-seat arena, which sits on the former Wet ‘n Wild site between the Sahara and the incomplete Fontainebleau, to be completed in the fall of 2012.

That timetable is contingent on Clark County commissioners approving partial public funds from the redevelopment district, which was formed almost 10 years ago. The commissioners meet Tuesday to consider several arena proposals. The Silver State Arena financing proposal contemplates no new taxes.

Milam, CEO of International Development Management, told the commissioners at the initial hearing last month the $750 million arena would be 85 percent privately funded, with the other 15 percent coming from the redevelopment agency. Milam said the new arena would create 10,000 jobs, 7,600 of them permanent, and add 100 new event days to the local schedule.

Milam, reached late Sunday night, acknowledged by e-mail that "it is our desire to acquire and relocate NBA, NHL and WNBA franchises to Las Vegas, and to do so at this time, and it is correct that we have opened initial discussions."

It has been reported that an arena has to be a nongaming facility and not associated with any outside hotel or gaming operation.

MGM MIRAGE NAME CHANGE

There’s "absolutely no truth" that the proposed name change of MGM Mirage to MGM Resorts International means the company is preparing to sell The Mirage, according to Jim Murren, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of MGM Mirage.

"I’ve heard that chatter. Let me put that rumor to bed," said Murren during a telephone interview.

"We have no interest in selling what has been one of the most enduring, successful resorts in the history of our community," Murren said.

He said it is clear from early voting that the name change is going to be approved overwhelmingly on Tuesday at the shareholders meeting.

The move to MGM Resorts International comes after "two years of intense analysis and development" and will include a new marketing brand strategy called "M life," based on what Murren said was a "more comprehensive loyalty program."

SIGHTINGS

The cast and crew of "Le Reve," the aquatic show at Wynn Las Vegas, celebrating the fifth anniversary of the show at Blush (Wynn) on Saturday. … Cast members of the "Twilight" film series, on hand at the new Crown nightclub (Rio) on Saturday. … Paris Hilton and Cy Waits, joining Nicky Hilton and David Katzenberg at Pure (Caesars Palace) on Saturday.

THE PUNCH LINE

"A new report found that 20 percent of people over 45 had to dip into their retirement savings last year. And the other 80 percent said, ‘Retirement savings?’" — Jimmy Fallon

Norm Clarke can be reached at (702) 383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.

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