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Sands, UNLV: Las Vegas Domed Stadium Would Benefit Vegas, Attract NFL

Sam Boyd Stadium

A new $1.3-billion Las Vegas domed stadium would both elevate the University of Nevada-Las Vegas football program and attract an NFL team, as the Las Vegas Sands and Majestic Realty continued their push for a 64,000-seat facility off the Strip.

There was little new information presented to the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee about the stadium plan. The Las Vegas Sands and Majestic Realty are pitching a $1.3 billion stadium that would be built on 42 acres near the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, at Koval and Tropicana. UNLV currently plays at Sam Boyd Stadium (shown above), a small, antiquated facility far off campus. The lack of revenue from the football program has kept UNLV in the Mountain West Conference — a conference where there are some major national powers (like Boise State), but a conference that doesn’t have any national television exposure. And while schools the size of UNLV have left the Mountain West for larger conferences, like the Big 12 or the Pac-12, UNLV has stayed behind.

The Sands/Majestic Realty proposal calls from $760 billion in public money — potentially diverted from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority — and would benefit both UNLV and the local business community. From the Las Vegas Sun:

Much of the meeting focused on why the stadium was even necessary and what effect it could have on Southern Nevada. Presenters sought to educate the committee about interest in the stadium, its potential economic impact and how similar facilities were developed in other markets.

[Majestic Realty executive Craig ] Cavileer told the panel that Las Vegas and the state of Nevada should make “strategic investments” that provide immediate returns on investment and benefit the tourism economy. Despite calling itself the entertainment capital of the world, the area is lacking without a larger stadium that can fit more visitors at once, he said.

“A multipurpose stadium puts Las Vegas on the map in a much different way than today,” Cavlieer said.

But there’s one big political issue looming: diverting hotel taxes from an expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Spending on the convention center is seen as good for all the major Vegas resorts: a rising tide raises all boats, and the more conventions the convention center can attract, the better for all hotels. That the Sands and its owner Sheldon Adelson are pushing to divert hotel taxes to his project isn’t sitting too well with other resort owners; it’s seen as a win-win for Adelson by reducing some competition for the Sands and putting money in Adelson’s pocket as a developer of the stadium. MGM, a major competitor, issued a report saying locals would prefer to see the convention center fully funded as opposed to being diverted to a football stadium. The issue for the Sands and Majestic Realty — make a convincing argument that the stadium would be a good investment, per the Sun:

If the stadium hosts an NFL team, sponsorship revenue, including naming rights and other sources, could generate $26.4 million in revenue by 2019, consultants for the project found. That figure was only $8 million for a non-NFL stadium, according to a presentation from Convention, Sports & Leisure International.

Even without an NFL team, however, a large stadium could generate sizable benefits in other areas. Fifteen non-NFL events in such a venue could produce $46 million a year in tax revenue, according to Mark Rosentraub, a University of Michigan professor who analyzed the project’s economic potential.

Though the infrastructure committee has not yet examined which public funding sources the stadium would need, Clark County hotel room taxes are a potential source. And that possibility has already clashed with another big infrastructure project: the $1.4 billion expansion and renovation of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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RELATED STORIES: New UNLV stadium could be game-changer for football stadium; Adelson pitches new Las Vegas domed stadium for Raiders, UNLV

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