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Southwest Airlines Throws Another Roadblock to New Las Vegas Stadium Coliseum

A new Las Vegas stadium hit another roadblock as Southwest Airlines came out strongly against the currently proposed site, forcing advocates to cast a wider net for a alternative location — including a potential downtown site.

Organizers had pitched a 42-acre site at Tropicana Avenue and Koval Lane (the so-called Trop42 site) for a $1.4-billion domed stadium that would house the relocating Oakland Raiders, UNLV football and other big events. To say that it’s created a lot of buzz in a town that thrives on buzz is an understatement: it is pretty apparent that the Raiders would be an instant smash.

But Southwest Airlines killed that buzz by coming out against the Trop42 site, writing the Clark County Commission that the stadium site would negatively impact McCarran International Airport operations. In many ways McCarran is the economic engine that drives so much activity in the Vegas tourism ecosystem. The Trop42 site sites a half-mile from the ends of two north-south McCarran runways, and while the Federal Aviation Administration would likely allow the stadium to be built there, it would require more spacing of flights using these runways. No one in Las Vegas wants to see fewer flights, so the opposition from Southwest Airlines is widely regarded as basically killing the site.

So organizers are looking to other locations. There were always a few alternatives to the Trop42 site — the expected opposition from airport stakeholders was not exactly unanticipated — so now attention is turning to these sites:

  • Open land next to the Thomas & Mack Center. That site was once pitched by Majestic Realty as UNLV Now, which would have included a new UNLV stadium, an entertainment district and student housing.
  • The former location of the Riviera Hotel on the Strip, near the Convention Center. The Riviera, a Rat Pack mainstay, was recently torn down to make way for an expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. The new stadium and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority are vying for the use of tourism taxes to fund their facilities. This may be a way for the pair to join forces and placate opponents of the stadium project, who don’t want to see the Sands benefit from any public spending.
  • The Rock in Rio concert grounds at Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, which is controlled by MGM Resorts International. The initial 2015 edition of Rock in Rio wasn’t exactly a stunner, and the future of the event is up for debate — as is the future of the site.
  • The downtown Cashman Center and Cashman Field. Most conventioneers never see the almost-100,000-square foot Cashman Center, and the Las Vegas 51s have been working for years for a new ballpark to replace Cashman Field. With potentially 55 acres available and plenty of freeway access, the site could work. But there are a few issues. For one, fans will be far off the Strip and away from the hotels that could benefit from having an NFL team in town. Second, the facility would be far away from UNLV. That’s already an issue with Sam Boyd Stadium.

This represents a pretty wide assortment of potential new Las Vegas stadium locations. The project has been pitched by Las Vegas Sands Corp., Majestic Realty and the Raiders, who would put up the private part of the $1.4 billion price tag.

RELATED STORIES: New Vegas Stadium Plan Fails to Wow Committee; Davis Doubles Down on Vegas; Goodell Resists Raiders Relo; Davis: Vegas is Definitely Viable Home for Raiders; Davis: We’ll Be the Las Vegas Raiders if New Stadium is Built; Does Vegas’s NFL Hopes Ride on San Diego?

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August Publications