The committee studying the needs of the Las Vegas Convention Center and construction of a domed stadium met this week, clearing one hurdle and getting more time to address another.
By unanimous vote, the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee approved a proposal to finance and oversee a $1.4 billion expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. The recommendation will be sent to Gov. Brian Sandoval, who created the advisory committee a year ago.
Financial analyst Jeremy Aguero, who serves as an aide to the committee, told KNPR's State of Nevada that the expansion would add another 600,000 square feet to the convention center.
He said the committee heard from many convention operators who expressed concerns about the amount space at the current convention center and modernity of its facilities.
"I think it was a huge step forward for the committee and frankly for the community," Aguero said.
The expansion plan, according to Aguero, is to take over the convention center land west of the current center on Paradise Road and Convention Center Drive. That expansion will include the area once occupied by the Riviera Hotel-Casino.
The Legislature would need to approve the suggested 0.5 percentage point increase to the room tax rate in order to fund the project.
On Wednesday, Gov. Brian Sandoval gave more time to the committee to negotiate possible terms for construction of a domed stadium to lure the Oakland Raiders to relocate to Las Vegas.
The committee was supposed to turn in a final recommendation at the end of the month, but now has until Sept. 30.
The panel wants the investors to narrow the list of possible locations.
Nine locations were discussed during Monday's meeting.
*Tropicana Avenue and Koval Lane, nicknamed Trop 42
*A plot near the Thomas & Mack
*Property behind the Wynn and Encore, which is currently the Wynn Golf Course
*The Wild, Wild West casino at Tropicana Avenue and Dean Martin Drive near I-15,
*The MGM Resorts International festival grounds along Las Vegas Boulevard at Sahara Avenue, where the Rock in Rio festival was held,
*62-acre plot across I-15 from Mandalay Bay on Russell Road
*Site of the old Wet 'n' Wild on the Strip, which is between SLS Las Vegas and the unfinished Fontainebleau hotel.
The ninth place mentioned in the meeting was the old Riviera, but Aguero said since the decision by the committee to move forward with the convention center plan he said it was "no longer a viable site."
Aguero said there is a lot to consider when it comes to those sites including existing infrastructure and perhaps most importantly, how much the land would cost.
"That property is not going to be for free," he said, "Maybe if we were able to get UNLV we could swing some kind of a deal. Maybe someone would be willing to put the land in for some type of equity contribution. But those things aren't settled today and that's a very important issue and a determinate factor in exactly how much this stadium project is going to cost."
The cost of the project is the other reason why the committee wanted more time.
Estimated cost for the facility, proposed by the Raiders, Las Vegas Sands, and Majestic Realty, grew from $1.45 billion to up to $2.1 billion, in part, because of additional estimated land acquisition costs.
Aguero said the investors are still looking for $750 million in public money for construction. The plan is for that money to come from hotel room taxes. He said the $500 million floated at last month's meeting by the committee was "alternative way" of looking at the funding with the idea that a deal could get done at that amount.
He also said that the investors have agreed to pay for any cost escalations during construction, which are very common on large projects like this one.
Another piece of the funding formula is a tax increment area, which would take a portion of the sales taxes, live entertainment tax and modified business tax for businesses around the stadium to pay for its operation.
And yet another piece, Aguero said is a plan to split any profits from the stadium above a certain percentage between the private investors and the public.
However, all of these expenditures, tax areas, credits and deals still need to be worked out by the investors, the committee and ultimately the State Legislature and Gov. Sandoval.
Aguero said the expectation is that there would be 46 total events scheduled for the stadium each year, which includes NFL games, UNLV football games, UFC fights, soccer matches and concerts.
He believes the impact of the stadium "will be measured in billions of dollars."
As lawmakers and investors work out the final numbers, Aguero said they have to look at whether Las Vegas is getting enough for what it's putting in.
"If you look at the operations associated with a stadium itself, that stadium is probably going to throw off let's call it $35 million a year," he said, "So how much would you be willing to invest to receive $35 million year?"
And Aguero said that estimate does not include all of the "ancillary benefits" of a stadium.
"All the filled hotel rooms, all the jobs that are created, all events that would be here for residents and visitors alike to be able to take advantage of," he said. "The question is: how much are we willing to pay for that."
Jeremy Aguero, financial analyst and staff aide, Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee
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