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UNLV stadium panel debates dome vs. no-dome concepts

It took more than six weeks after its inaugural meeting, but the UNLV stadium board on Thursday began talking about dome vs. no-dome, with the panel talking about a cost and revenue analysis of putting a fixed roof atop a potential on-campus venue.

“I would love to see a domed stadium housing year-round events, if it’s feasible,” said board member Cedric Crear, a state Regent who owns an advertising firm.

If it’s feasible? That was a common question to emerge during the discussion by the 11-member panel, which is made up of several Board of Regents members, Las Vegas resort industry representatives and public officials. The panel has until Sept. 30 to submit a report to the state Legislature on the feasibility, scope and funding options of an on-campus stadium at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Right now, the panel has more questions than answers.

Board member Rick Arpin, an MGM Resorts executive working on his company’s 20,000-seat arena on the Strip, questioned whether there is a financially feasible location on the 342-acre campus.

Indeed, the height of a previously proposed stadium did not meet federal aviation standards.

“It’s a challenge,” Arpin said after the 2½-hour meeting at UNLV. “It’s a cost issue.”

David Frommer, UNLV planning and construction executive director, said the proposed stadium, which has since been dropped, would have needed to be built 125 to 150 feet above the ground, with 15 to 25 feet of the building below the surface.

Another issue that surfaced was traffic and access to any campus stadium.

Board member Michael Wixom, a regent who is a bank lawyer in Las Vegas, requested a study looking at the ability of roads feeding into the campus to handle stadium traffic.

Frommer told the board that a 55,000-seat stadium would draw about 11,000 cars. Wixom wondered if streets such as Flamingo Road, Maryland Parkway or Harmon Avenue could handle the traffic load.

The board also heard from Pat Christenson, president of Las Vegas Events, which recruits, promotes and stages events in Las Vegas.

Christenson warned the board to be mindful that MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment are staging big music festivals in open lots that attract more than 25,000 fans. They could compete for drawing events to a potential on-campus stadium depending on the venue’s design.

The board plans to start building a vision for what it wants in a stadium during the next two months.

It won’t be until late January when a project manager will start guiding the panel on the feasibility process.

Arpin suggested the board members see a summary of recently built college stadiums to help them understand the various options for a campus venue. For example, board members discussed Arizona State University’s plan to build a canopy at an updated stadium to shade fans and players.

The board will likely enlist stadium consultant Mark Rosentraub from the University of Michigan to show the variety of new college stadiums.

Rosentraub also worked as a consultant on the previous stadium plan. UNLV had partnered with Majestic Realty on that proposal, but cut ties to the developer in March in favor of forging a partnership with the Las Vegas hotel-casino industry.

The stadium board’s next meeting is set for Dec. 12.

Alan Snel can be contacted at asnel@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273. Follow @BicycleManSnel on Twitter.

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