EDITORIAL: Groundbreaking arena

The Strip is getting a new arena. The sparkly, state-of-the-art, super-sized kind. And without a single tax dollar.

On Thursday, MGM Resorts International and entertainment giant AEG will break ground on a groundbreaking, 20,000-seat, $350 million privately funded arena behind New York-New York. Site preparation work already is well under way, and the first signs of construction should be obvious within weeks.

It’s a critically important project for the valley because its other arenas lack the luxury suites, amenities and seating capacity to compete with similar facilities around the country. It will allow the Strip to host dozens and dozens more megaconcerts, fights and special events, helping to fill hotel rooms, showrooms and restaurants with more visitors. It might even help the valley land a new professional sports franchise, although Las Vegas has become a big-league city without a big-league team.

Thursday’s groundbreaking should accomplish something else: officially ending the city’s effort to build a competing $390 million arena downtown with public money. The city’s business partner in the project, the Cordish Cos., has about a month left before its deadline to lock down a viable funding plan. As long as it includes tax dollars, that’s impossible. A four-month extension for Cordish barely passed in January, and it was clear then that four council members won’t support public funding, to say nothing of downtown businesses.

The valley needs a modern arena. It doesn’t need two.

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