ZZZ - GMG - VEGAS INC 2011-2014

March 4, 2013

VEGAS INC Magazine - Latest Las Vegas business news, features and commentaries about gaming, tourism, real estate and more

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Page 10 of 47

In business development As costs rise on UNLV NOW stadium, so does anxiety THE VISION: An artist���s rendering depicts the look of the proposed UNLV Now stadium project on the campus of the university. courtesy art lead developer still bullish on project By Paul Takahashi���staff writer Don Snyder is putting his head down and moving forward despite news in mid-February that could cripple the UNLV Now stadium project he is trying to shepherd into reality. MGM Resorts International, the project���s first resort backer, said it ���cannot support the current UNLV Now concept��� because its $800 million to $900 million price tag is too prohibitive. In addition, the Nevada Resort Association and Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority tempered their endorsement of the 60,000-seat stadium. The LVCVA, from which stadium officials are planning to seek $125 million, said its first priority would be refurbishing the Las Vegas Convention Center, not funding the stadium. ���This certainly slows us down and sets us back,��� said Snyder, UNLV Now���s project leader. ���But it���s not unusual in a project of this magnitude and complexity. It���s a natural and important part of the process.��� The public statements opposing the stadium caused UNLV Now officials to hastily cancel a meeting to discuss the project���s final cost and funding plans with Nevada���s higher education leaders. The Feb. 22 meeting would have paved the way for a legislative debate on a special tax district to help finance the project. The project suffered its first major setback in 2011 when it failed to secure legislative backing for a tax-increment financing district to pay for the UNLV stadium. Legislators at the time were concerned about the cost and scope of | 4 MARCH 2013 20130304_VI11_F.indd 11 | ���It���s more important for us to get it right than to try to hit a deadline.��� ��� don snyder, project leader for unlv now stadium proposal the project. Bundled with two other stadium proposals in Las Vegas, the stadium bill failed in the final days of the 2011 session. This time, Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, is working with Snyder on a new bill for a tax district. That bill is ���well advanced and close to ready to go,��� Snyder said. But further delays in the cost and funding projections for the stadium could derail the bill. If lawmakers fail to pass a bill this session, it could stall construction for another two years. ���We don���t have a lot of time. If everything isn���t done this legislative session, we may need to go to the next session (in 2015),��� Snyder said. ���It���s more important for us to get it right than to try to hit a deadline.��� Snyder, a former banker and casino executive who was instrumental in the development of several Las Vegas landmarks, recently stepped down as dean of UNLV���s William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration to focus his fundraising efforts on the stadium. Snyder said he remains optimistic about the stadium���s future despite this week���s setbacks. MGM pledged $20 million about a year ago, creating a lot of ���positive energy��� around the UNLV Now project, which helped move the planning and designs forward, he said. However, since that pledge was made, the project has changed dramatically. The size and scope of the stadium could have made private stakeholders uneasy. ���This is a very different project than when it was first envisioned,��� Snyder said. ���The intensity of these conversations (surrounding the cost and scope) may have created a little bit of angst.��� Withdrawal of MGM���s support could have wider consequences for the planners, who are seeking millions of dollars in private support from Strip resorts. About 40 percent of the stadium���s cost will be borne by Majestic Realty���s Ed Roski, who developed the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The remainder would come from the tax district, a portion of revenue generated by the stadium and private donations from Las Vegas��� hospitality industry. Snyder, a former board member of the LVCVA, said he remained confident the resort industry would come around to the stadium project. He pointed to a University of Michigan study, commissioned by UNLV, that found the stadium could generate nearly $400 million annually in direct spending to the Las Vegas economy. ���This is a good economic engine for us in a time when we need it the most,��� Snyder said. ���The faster we can have a facility that can attract more tourists, the faster we can get our economic engine going.��� By Richard N. Velotta���senior staff writer Representatives of Southern Nevada���s resort industry are concerned about the cost and scope of UNLV���s proposed oncampus 60,000-seat football stadium, and one major company has withdrawn some support it had quietly committed months ago. MGM Resorts International issued a statement saying that although the company supports a stadium concept and would continue to work with UNLV, it is concerned with how the stadium ��� with a price tag of $800 million to $900 million ��� is configured and financed. ���MGM Resorts was the first company in the industry to offer financial support for an on-campus stadium at UNLV, making a $20 million pledge to the effort,��� MGM said in a statement. ���However, we are concerned the current UNLV Now concept has grown too expensive for our community to support. We remain committed to working with the university and others to refine and plan for an on-campus stadium for UNLV that is appropriately configured and responsibly financed.��� It���s unclear whether MGM intends to withdraw its financial pledge. MGM isn���t alone in wavering. Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association, said most members left a meeting last month with concerns similar to MGM���s. ���Most of these guys, at one time or another, have probably looked at what it costs to build a stadium, so they have a pretty good understanding of what things cost and what essential elements go into a project like that,��� she said. Some of the lingering questions: n Is the project too large, and can the community support it? n Are some of the elements proposed in the project essential to its success? Among the amenities that have been suggested are six 300-seat VIP suites, more than 50 conventional suites and a 100-yard-long video screen. n Would UNLV Now seek to divert room tax revenue currently earmarked to the promotion of Las Vegas through the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for the project? n If funds were drawn, how would that affect plans for its multimilliondollar Las Vegas Convention Center upgrade project? 11 2/28/13 2:39:55 PM

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