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Master plan for Las Vegas arena includes NBA, NHL teams

StripA game plan of sorts is emerging for the developer proposing a new arena on the Las Vegas Strip, including the ownership of NBA and NHL franchises and temporary venues for each before a new facility is built.

To say the plan is audacious is an understatement. But big thinking is wired into the Las Vegas DNA, and to make an impact in Sin City means some outsized planning must be involved. Appropriately, the plans for the Silver State Arena are appropriately outsized. (Of course, Norm has all the details in his Vegas Confidential column.)

Christopher Milam is heading an investment group that wants to build a new 20,000-seat arena at the former Wet ‘N Wild waterpark site on the Las Vegas Strip, between the Sahara Hotel and the Fontainebleau Hotel development, to be opened in 2012. That alone is an aggressive timetable, but Milam and his cohorts at International Development Management want to add both an NBA and an NHL franchise to the mix. Furthermore, they want to buy the franchises in time to begin play in Vegas before the opening of the arena; they’ve approved UNLV officials about putting the NBA team in Thomas & Mack Center and Boyd Group officials about putting the NHL team at the Orleans Arena. (We’re not entirely sure the NHL would allow this: the Orleans is a smaller 8,000-seat arena. Thomas & Mack can host an ice rink.) Throw an WNBA team into the mix, and you’ve got a game plan.

Whether there’s a business plan here remains to be seen. We’re talking $750 million for the arena, with 15 percent coming from a revived redevelopment district. Add in the cost of acquiring the franchises (which would seem to be a stretch for the NHL) and inevitable operating losses before the arena opens, and you’re talking some real money.

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