SBD/March 4, 2013/Facilities

MGM Planning Privately Funded Las Vegas Arena With AEG, May Pull UNLV Pledge

MGM Resorts Int'l “wants to build a privately funded, 20,000-seat indoor arena behind the New York-New York and Monte Carlo resorts that would feature boxing, top-draw headliners and special events,” according to the LAS VEGAS SUN. The company in a statement said that the project is “anticipated to be financed with equity contributions” from MGM Resorts and its partner, AEG, “as well as privately funded third-party financing.” MGM said that “retail shops, dining, entertainment and other enterprises would accompany the arena, stretching from the Strip to Frank Sinatra Drive behind the resorts.” A company spokesperson said that design and planning is “well under way, and the partners will begin seeking appropriate approvals immediately.” UNLV College of Hotel Administration Dean and UNLV Now project head Don Snyder said that the MGM-AEG plans “will not affect the proposed UNLV Now, the ‘mega-center’ stadium project that would reshape the university campus.” Snyder said, "The two proposals are pretty much apples and oranges. UNLV Now is designed for hosting large events that would draw between 25,000 and 60,000 people. There's always been separate conversation about arenas. All along, I’ve felt that an arena project can be done by individual companies and with private money." MGM had “initially thrown its support behind UNLV Now. But it since has said that the center’s price tag of $800 million to $900 million was "too prohibitive, raising doubts" about MGM's $20M pledge for the campus project. Snyder said that he “wasn’t concerned that MGM-AEG's proposed arena would compete for events with UNLV's stadium,” adding that the UNLV stadium “can host larger events and is a neutral site, meaning it could attract a wider range of events” (LASVEGASSUN.com, 3/1).

THE LION'S ROAR: In Las Vegas, Snel & Stutz reported the Las Vegas “arena race drew a new deep-pocketed competitor,” as the MGM-AEG project is to be done “without a nickel of public money.” MGM “did not offer a price tag or drawings” for the project. Construction “should take 24 to 30 months after a late-2013 groundbreaking.” MGM “moves to the head of the pack of contenders aiming to build an arena in the Las Vegas market.” MGM’s arena will “proceed without a tenant such as an NBA or NHL team.” MGM Resorts Chair & CEO Jim Murren said the design process is “well along.” He added that MGM “would seek the proper zoning and Clark County approvals.” AEG was “originally connected with an arena development planned by Caesars Entertainment Corp.” That project “died when a judge ruled against a public vote on a local sales tax to help pay for it” (LVRJ.com, 3/1).
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