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Mayor Goodman says city arena, UNLV domed football stadium can co-exist

Even without any feasibility studies or financing plans in place, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said Tuesday a city-backed 20,000-seat arena downtown and a UNLV-backed 60,000-seat domed football stadium on campus can coexist and would appeal to different events.

“They’re compatible,” Goodman said in an interview this week.

No less than five sports facility projects have been proposed in the past year.

The city continues to work with The Cordish Cos. of Baltimore to build an arena downtown at Symphony Park. The city and the developer have an exclusive negotiating agreement through 2013.

Goodman said she routinely hears from representatives of businessmen looking to buy an NBA or NHL team they would move to a proposed arena at the north end of the 61-acre downtown Las Vegas site. She declined to identify those contacts, however.

Goodman also said she wants private developers to build the arena, though she doesn’t want to move forward unless they have money in the bank.

“We’re not about to use taxpayer funding for this,” Goodman said.

Meanwhile, University of Nevada, Las Vegas officials are moving ahead with a 60,000-seat domed stadium, which will be discussed Friday by the school’s Board of Regents.

UNLV Chancellor Daniel Klaich said Wednesday that the public portion of the proposed stadium partnership is being negotiated and that creation of a tax increment financing district will be pushed in the legislative session, which opens Feb. 4. Tax revenues from development in a district around the stadium would help pay for its construction.

In addition to UNLV football games, the stadium could host NFL preseason games, a new college bowl game and concerts drawing more fans than an arena can hold. That means it won’t compete with the city-backed downtown arena, said Goodman, who also wants the stadium used for big-time soccer games.

The university is expected to offer more details Friday about the stadium they call the “megaevent center.” Development company Majestic Realty is the private-sector partner on the UNLV Now project, which includes student housing on the southwest corner of the 332-acre campus. Craig Cavileer, president of the Silverton, is Majestic’s point man.

The project would cost at least $800 million to $900 million, including the cost of relocating athletic fields, according to consultant Mark Rosentraub of the University of Michigan, who was hired by UNLV to conduct an economic impact study of the project.

Regent Kevin Page said Wednesday that drawing support for the UNLV stadium also means getting local stakeholders such as gaming leaders, tourism officials and the airport to the table.

Rosentraub agreed with Goodman that a city arena and a UNLV stadium could coexist because Las Vegas lacks a venue for events drawing more than the 40,000 fans who can pack into UNLV’s off-campus Sam Boyd Stadium. A bigger issue, he said, is that a city arena would compete against the Thomas & Mack Center .

“People lose sight of the arena’s role for Division I sports. The community needs to evaluate whether another arena would have negative implications for UNLV’s support of Division I sports,” Rosentraub said.

Mike Newcomb, Thomas & Mack Center executive director, said a new football stadium on campus would work well with his venue but acknowledged a new city arena would be stiff competition.

Newcomb said the city should be cautious about building before it has a solid tenant such as an NBA or NHL franchise that would guarantee a solid base of event dates and revenue streams.

Other stadium and arena proposals floated in the past year include the following:

■ A combined stadium-area complex in Henderson pitched by developer Chris Milam. Henderson officials backed Milam’s $10.5 million bid for 480 acres from the Bureau of Land Management land but reversed field in November after discovering Milam was marketing the land for residential development, not an arena. At the city’s request, the BLM has delayed transferring the land.

■ The future new owners of the Las Vegas 51s baseball team have discussed building a ballpark near the Red Rock Resort in Summerlin.

■ The Las Vegas Arena Foundation last year proposed a 20,000-seat arena financed by an 0.8 percent sales tax in the Strip area. The group was unable to get the sales tax initiative on the November ballot. The proposal is in the hands of Caesars Entertainment, which owns the land, said Bruce Woodbury, president of the Las Vegas Arena Foundation .

Contact reporter Alan Snel at [email protected] or 702-387-5273.

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