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EDITORIAL: New home ice

It won’t be a glimmering new downtown arena that seats 20,000 and is loaded with luxury suites. Nor will it be a stadium with a retractable roof on the UNLV campus.

But it also won’t cost taxpayers a dime, and it will be exactly what the Las Vegas Wranglers need to stay in town.

As reported by the Review-Journal’s Todd Dewey on Feb. 15, the ECHL hockey team agreed to terms with the Plaza to build a new 3,500-seat facility at the downtown hotel. It will serve as the Wranglers’ new home beginning with the 2014-15 season. The announcement comes 2½ months after Boyd Gaming Corp. declined to renew the team’s lease at Orleans Arena, where the Wranglers are finishing off their 11th season in the valley.

Team President Billy Johnson told Mr. Dewey that the Wranglers agreed to a five-year lease with a five-year option for an extension. The permanent structure — which has yet to be named and will feature weatherproof fabric walls — will be constructed on the fifth-floor pool deck that connects the Plaza’s two hotel towers.

“They really understand what we’re trying to do in the community, and we understand what they’re trying to do in their property,” Mr. Johnson said. “They want to take advantage of what we have to offer them, to bring fans downtown.”

And the Wranglers get to be part of the evolving rejuvenation of downtown. “It’s really enjoying a renaissance right now. It’s going to be a blast to be a pro sports team in that area,” Mr. Johnson said.

In a lot of communities, building a 3,500-seat structure would be a major initiative. Yet in Las Vegas — against the backdrop of a privately funded arena planned for the Strip, a proposed downtown arena requiring public funds, the push for an on-campus football stadium for UNLV, along with the existing Thomas &Mack Center, Mandalay Bay Events Center, Orleans Arena, MGM Grand Garden and South Point arena — the Wranglers and the Plaza came up with a creative way to get a project done without reaching into taxpayers’ wallets. It’s a testament to the power of the private sector, the tourism industry and the energy behind the downtown revival.

The venue will allow the hockey club to keep ticket prices reasonable for what has been a loyal fan base.

Kudos to the Wranglers and the Plaza for finding a solution without involving any local government entity. It’s a win-win-win-win, for the team, the Plaza and the fans, and it’s another boost for downtown.

It’s another reminder that if a project pencils out, the private sector will find a way to get it done.

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LETTER: Nevada lawmakers trying to suppress voters

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