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Financial boost needed to keep AMA in Vegas

Ken Hudgens used to work at UNLV. Worked for Pat Christenson, in fact.

He has a special place in his heart for Las Vegas and would love to keep taking his three events to Sam Boyd Stadium.

“Nobody wants to be in Las Vegas more than me,” Hudgens said.

So when Hudgens, the chief operating officer at Feld Entertainment, laid out the reasons he might take both AMA events and the Monster Jam World Finals elsewhere, he almost went out of his way to make sure he wasn’t trying to issue threats. But the point was the same.

He said he needs financial backing to keep returning events such as Saturday’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross.

Hudgens’ former boss, Christenson, the president of Las Vegas Events, agrees. Christenson said he would bring the matter before his board of directors on Wednesday.

All three events will be back at Sam Boyd Stadium next year, but that’s the final year of the contracts.

“There are plenty of cities out there that would be desperate for the kind of audience and destination travelers that these events generate,” Hudgens said. “And there are plenty of cities that would be willing to pay a lot of money to have that happen. We would prefer being in Las Vegas, but at some point, if there are no more seats or no more amenities at the facility and there’s no financial support, it would be hard to justify to keep doing it.”

Hudgens didn’t specify how much money he seeks but said the 36,800-seat Sam Boyd Stadium makes it more difficult to meet rising expenses he said are “hundreds of thousands of dollars more than … as little as five years ago.”

The Supercross series makes stops at NFL and major league stadiums from Seattle to San Diego, from Atlanta to Arlington, Texas.

“We don’t have a lot of room to grow,” Hudgens said. “We’re looking for reasons to stay. We love the predictable weather. We love the destination. I think everybody in Vegas would agree that there needs to be a stadium solution.”

UNLV is attempting to get approval for an on-campus stadium, but that effort stalled when the university cut ties with developer Majestic Realty in late March. So even though a stadium remains possible, when and if one is built is questionable.

“What we’re starting to see is the size of Sam Boyd Stadium is really making it difficult to grow events,” Christenson said.

That’s why Christenson favors providing financial support, because even though Las Vegas Events and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority often focus more on attracting new events, they have to be careful not to lose what already calls the city home.

Hudgens said the Supercross creates an annual economic impact of $44.6 million for the city, with more than 26,000 out-of-town visitors. The Monster Jam World Finals, which was in March, creates $42 million with more than 27,000 out-of-towners.

Hudgens said a report for the Monster Energy Cup, which is in October, hasn’t been commissioned, but its numbers would rival those.

Las Vegas Events and the LVCVA previously provided financial “six-figure deals,” Hudgens said, before the economic downturn nearly five years ago.

Hudgens has a special feeling for Las Vegas. He worked at UNLV from 1990 to 1992, and the last thing he wants to do is remove these events from Las Vegas.

“We love coming to Vegas,” he said. “We want to keep these events there. We feel a little under appreciated.”

■ SATURDAY RECAP — Ryan Villopoto had the 450SX title clinched before he arrived, but other championships were on the line before the announced sellout crowd of 39,509.

Ken Roczen won the 250SX West title, and Wil Hahn captured the 250SX East championship. As for the individual races, the winners were Villopoto in 450SX, Eli Tomac in 250SX West, Tyler Bowers in 250SX East and Roczen in the 250SX East/West Shootout.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.

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