Boca Raton-based prison company GEO Group yesterday "withdrew" from its planned $6M naming-rights deal with Florida Atlantic Univ. "just hours after the latest student protest," according to Michael Vasquez of the MIAMI HERALD. Controversy had “dogged the gift from the beginning, as GEO Group’s status as the second-largest private prison operator in the country prompted jokes nicknaming the stadium Owlcatraz, after FAU’s mascot.” More serious criticism “came from human-rights organizations on the company’s reputation for housing prisoners in unhealthy, abusive squalor.” But FAU BOT Chair Anthony Barbar on Friday said that he had “seen no evidence of wrongdoing by the firm.” A coalition of more than 60 civil rights, immigrant, student and faith organizations yesterday morning “delivered an opposition letter to FAU President Mary Jane Saunders and the university’s board of trustees.” GEO Group Chair & CEO George Zoley in a statement said the naming-rights agreement “surprisingly evolved into an ongoing distraction to both of our organizations” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/2). In West Palm Beach, John Lantigua reports GEO Group released a letter from Zoley to Barbar “pledging $500,000 for academic scholarships this year in lieu of" the naming-rights agreement (PALM BEACH POST, 4/2).
The "all-in costs" for the proposed UNLV Now stadium project are projected to be "just less than" $900M, including $700M for the venue itself, according to a consulting report by N.Y.-based Sterling Project Development cited by Alan Snel of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. The report warned the venue’s $700M budget "might not be enough" for what UNLV officials are calling a "Mega Events Center." The report stated it "would be reasonable to assume that the Mega Events Center (as now sized) may ultimately be completed" for an amount that is 10-20% higher than the "all-in budgeted amount" of $700M. Snel noted that would "push the cost of the stadium alone" from $770M to $840M. Among other details included in the report were that the stadium will be 1.15 million square feet "on a 12-acre footprint." The project will require "one and a half years of relocation work and 30 months for stadium construction." There are "expectations that 59 events each year would attract nearly 1.9 million attendees, generating gross annual revenue" of $97.4M, while operation and maintenance costs "forecast at about" 50% of event income. UNLV College of Hotel Administration Dean and UNLV Now project head Don Snyder has "avoided public discussion of the project’s cost" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 4/1).