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Las Vegas foundation drops arena effort

A local foundation working with AEG on a new Las Vegas arena behind the Imperial Palace casino has abandoned their efforts after overwhelming apathy from Clark County leaders.

The Las Vegas Arena Foundation says it will stop its pursuit of the arena, which would be built on land donated by Harrah’s and funded by a special taxation district on the Strip. The problem: a total lack of support from Clark County commissioners, who didn’t want to raise taxes to fund the fifth arena in the greater Las Vegas area. (This was a county matter because the Strip south of Sahara is controlled by the county; the city of Las Vegas extends only as far south as Sahara.)

That leaves only two arena proposals on the table: IDM is pushing an arena on the former Wet ‘N Wild site off Sahara Avenue and the Strip, while Olympia Development is looking at a site south of the Strip, on Las Vegas Boulevard, for a $600-million facility. Since the Olympia Development plan also relies on a special taxation district, it will probably die as well.

Still alive: the Cordish Co. proposal for a downtown arena. That has the backing of Mayor Oscar Goodman.

The Vegas arena scene is complicated. On the one hand, there are three privately owned arenas at casinos (Orleans, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand) and none are spectacular or really capable of hosting big-league sports or events. The University of Nevada-Las Vegas’s Thomas & Mack Center is certainly nothing spectacular, but it’s good enough for the National Finals Rodeo every December, as well as good enough for concerts and UNLV events. The concern is that a newer and showier facility would steal away the rodeo finals, which help fill area hotels for three usually slow weeks in December. (Indeed, there are rumblings that Jerry Jones has eyed the event as a possibility for Cowboys Stadium, but that’s highly unlikely: we can’t see the ‘Boy abandoning home base for three weeks at crunch time.)

RELATED STORIES: Vegas arena proposals draw opposition from county commissioners, casinos



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