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Bali Hai site top contender for Las Vegas NFL stadium location

The proximity of the Bali Hai Golf Club to two interstate highways and world-famous Las Vegas Boulevard has now made it the leading contender as a site for a 65,000-seat domed football stadium proposed by Las Vegas Sands Corp., Majestic Realty and the Oakland Raiders.

Andy Abboud, vice president of government relations and community development for Las Vegas Sands, said Saturday that the Bali Hai site, a 140-acre 18-hole golf course on Las Vegas Boulevard south of Russell Road and the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino, has emerged as a consensus best option by the developers, government officials and gaming industry leaders.

“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from our colleagues on the Strip and (Clark County) has been anxious about doing something different with the site,” Abboud said.

The Raiders have promised to pursue relocation to Las Vegas if a stadium financing plan is approved by state lawmakers. The project would cost an estimated $1.7 billion to $2.1 billion and, as proposed, would have a public funding component.

Abboud said representatives of the Raiders also are enthusiastic about the site because it has enough space to accommodate parking and tailgating activities for fans.

One issue with the site: its proximity to the west end of McCarran International Airport’s primary east-west runways. However, Abboud and Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said if the stadium structure is built on the north end of the property it should not become an obstruction to air traffic.

The close proximity of a site at Tropicana Avenue and Koval Lane to the north end of McCarran’s runways has all but ruled out that location for the stadium.

The land on which the Bali Hai course lies is owned by Clark County and under lease to golf course developer and professional gambler Bill Walters. Abboud and Sisolak said the stadium developers would have to negotiate with Walters to acquire the lease in order for the site to be used for a stadium.

Abboud said the golf course covers 140 acres, but only the northernmost 100 acres would be suitable for the stadium because of potential aviation issues.

In the next few days, the county is expected to get some specific information from the Clark County Department of Aviation and the Federal Aviation Administration to determine the suitability of the site while the stadium developers and Walters discuss a transaction for the lease.

“Some big issues remain, but after our initial due diligence, this site has risen up to have the most potential for the stadium,” Sisolak said. “The two big details are working with the FAA and the Department of Aviation to get specifics on the site on the northernmost part of the property and, because the site is under lease to Billy Walters, someone would have to buy him out of that.”

Abboud and Sisolak said the site is appealing because of its proximity to Interstate 15, which runs along the west side of the course, and Interstate 215, which is about a mile south of it.

Abboud said officials with MGM Resorts International like the site because of its proximity to 3,309-room Mandalay Bay and Sisolak noted that plans are in the works to extend the Las Vegas Monorail line to Mandalay Bay, providing an additional means of transportation nearby.

The Bali Hai golf course, one of two on the Strip, opened in 2000, but just 10 years later became the object of speculation for closure and redevelopment. There’s a growing trend toward the closure of golf courses to develop more lucrative projects.

Abboud and Sisolak said other potential stadium sites continue to be studied, including the 113-acre Wild Wild West truck plaza on Tropicana Avenue west of I-15 owned by the Fertitta family. But the Bali Hai site is now considered to be the top contender for development.

The 11-member Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee is expected to review the new stadium site developments when it next meets Aug. 25.

The Review-Journal is owned by a limited liability corporation owned by the family of Sands chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find him on Twitter: @RickVelotta

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