UNLV Planned Stadium Huge for Las Vegas and UNLV
Plans for a large event center on the west side of the UNLV campus received enthusiastic support from Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) regents during a special meeting Friday, Jan. 11 at UNLV.
“Never did I ever dream that something like this would ever happen here in Las Vegas,” said Regent Jack Lund Schofield, 89. “I want to see it happen on my watch.”
The UNLV Now project has been in the works for over two years and is turning out to be something grander than first imagined. Originally it was going to be a stadium for the UNLV football team and other events.
“This project is a game changer,” said Donald Snyder, dean of UNLV’s Harrah College of Hotel Administration. “It’s a game changer for UNLV. It’s a game changer for Las Vegas as a whole,” he told the regents.
What started as an idea for a mega-event center has grown into a master plan community that will change UNLV, Las Vegas and Nev., Snyder said. A mega-event center is bigger than a stadium and can host a variety of attractions while providing the patrons with luxury and state of the facilities.
“It’s not a bowl. It’s not a box,” said Craig Cavileer of Majestic Realty. “It’s very different, very unique, and very exciting.” Cavileer is the person who originally conceived the concept of building an arena on campus.
Majestic Realty has partnered with UNLV on the UNLV Now project.
The center as currently proposed would seat from 25,000 to 60,000 spectators, which combined with Las Vegas’ reputation of being the entertainment capital of the world, make it the ideal location to hold iconic events.
Pat Christenson, president of Las Vegas Events, told regents 15 targeted events could be ideal for the center. These events would be a diverse mixture of national and international sporting events such as soccer, rugby and collegiate football championship games. The center will also host music festivals and large concerts.
“This is a critical facility that our region needs,” said Neal Smatresk, UNLV president.
There is nothing like this in Las Vegas.
The design for the center that would be located where the UNLV baseball and softball fields are now located is unique. While other centers have been built for major league football teams, this center would be made for a variety of uses.
The event center will house the world’s largest multimedia experience featuring a video screen that is over 100 yards long for an immersive and interactive experience for the audience. For those wanting a more luxurious experience, VIP/Club seating, suites, clubs and party decks will be available.
An economic impact study has determined that the project will bring in over $600 million in total economic benefits and that there a strong market demand for the project.
“It really doubles our ability to bring special events to Las Vegas,” said Christenson.
The new events would be beneficial to the community as a whole, the hospitality industry and the university. The venue would be able to draw tourists to the city by offering a one of a kind experience in an iconic setting.
Despite the fact that the event center is projected to bring business to Las Vegas, Snyder doesn’t think that there will be a lot of migration of current Las Vegas events to the center. He thinks that there will be new events that will grow around the current events that come to Las Vegas.
“It’s the next big thing, and to have it on [the UNLV] campus is a real opportunity,” said Snyder. “There is nobody who said we don’t need the facility.”
In addition to the event center, there is a plan for a student village that will contain shopping areas, housing and dining around the UNLV campus.
“Of all the government institutions, the university has been the most insular,” said Ed Uehling who feels that the project will be beneficial to UNLV as well as those beyond UNLV.
The project will create a bridge between the higher education and the community that in turn will create excitement and academic support.
“If we get the go decision,” said Snyder, “it will an 18 month process before we break ground.”
The project will require legislation for a special tax assessment district. The proposal to enable this is being sponsored by Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Nevada Assembly speaker, and is currently in the Legislative Counsel Bureau for bill drafting. A previous attempt to get this status failed during the 2011 legislative session.
“The next six months are the critical of a go or no go decision,” said Snyder.
The Legislature only meets every two years meaning that if there is a no-go decision, the UNLV Now project could face significant delays.
“If everything keeps on track, it is reasonable to expect that it will be operational by 2017,” said Snyder.
The UNLV Now project will not be funded by student’s tuition and fees, according to its developers. “There is a three-way partnership with UNLV, the hospitality industry and the private sector,” said Snyder.
Investors can buy suites and become partners in the project. Additionally, they can buy naming rights that would act as advertisements.
“When it gets down to funding conversations things get more difficult,” said Snyder. “We haven’t asked specifically for contributions.”
Although Smatresk said that the numbers are about 90 percent finalized, he does not want to release the expected final cost of the project until the workday.
The workday has been scheduled for Feb. 22 at 9 a.m. This workday will be held on the UNLV campus and is open to the public to go over all the specific details of the project.
The UNLV Now project will be discussed again during Board of Regents Meeting on Feb. 28 or March 1 at the Desert Research Institute. During the meeting issues of financing plan, area plan and the basic economic terms will be discussed. The exact meeting time will be available on http://system.nevada.edu/Nshe/index.cfm/administration/board-of-regents/meeting-schedule1/ when it is finalized.
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