Tourism board undecided about funding proposed UNLV stadium


Artist rendering of the proposed UNLV Now project.


Artist rendering of the proposed UNLV Now project. Launch slideshow »

It’s too early to tell if the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority would consider diverting room-tax funds toward the construction of the proposed UNLV Now stadium, the top executive of the organization said.

Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of the LVCVA, said that while the proposal to build a 60,000-seat, on-campus, indoor stadium is being downsized after concerns were raised about the project being too big and too expensive, the board will await additional information about how the final project emerges.

“Right now, it’s too soon to tell,” Ralenkotter said of what, if any, financial role the LVCVA would have in the project. “I know that they’re still working on their financial model and they’re working on the actual scope of the project. Until all those things are determined, we’re supportive of the efforts of the university. We’ll provide them with information and input and we’ll see where they wind up with their final project.”

Ralenkotter was interviewed after today’s board meeting at which Don Snyder, a former member of the LVCVA board as an executive with Boyd Gaming in the 1990s, gave a progress report on the stadium plan.

Snyder is spearheading UNLV’s effort to build the stadium, hailed not only as a new home for Rebels football, but a site for special events that can’t be accommodated in existing facilities in Southern Nevada.

Snyder’s presentation lasted less than 10 minutes, and he offered no new information on the project.

The only reaction Snyder received came from board member Cam Walker, mayor pro-tem of Boulder City, who suggested that UNLV consider a greater financial role in the project. The university is contributing the land for the project and some planning services, but no financial stake in the private-public partnership with Majestic Realty Co.

Majestic’s local point man, Craig Cavileer, attended the meeting but did not speak to the board.

The LVCVA built Sam Boyd Stadium, the facility currently used for UNLV football games, and suggestions have been raised that the LVCVA could divert room tax funds to support the project.

But late last month, the LVCVA announced plans to revamp the Las Vegas Convention Center with a $2.5 billion project to turn the campus into the Las Vegas Global Business District, a project that could stretch the limit of the agency's financial resources.

Representatives of the resort community who say the size and cost of the stadium project have grown too large have tempered enthusiasm for the UNLV Now stadium project in recent weeks.

MGM Resorts International, which is represented on the LVCVA board, withdrew support for the project as currently envisioned. Within days of MGM’s withdrawal of support, the company announced its own plans for a 20,000-seat arena west of the New York-New York and Monte Carlo properties.

The company’s proposed arena is designed for special events and boxing matches, but wouldn’t be large enough to accommodate football.

Sporting events are important to Las Vegas because not only do they draw people, but they result in free television exposure.

Television networks, for example, will be out in full force Saturday with three college basketball tournaments having their championship games and the Chicago Cubs playing the Texas Rangers in a spring training game that will be broadcast in two key visitor markets — Chicago and Dallas.

Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 NASCAR race brought Las Vegas into the living rooms of millions of race fans.

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