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Caesars wins Vegas arena battle; long battle still ahead

Las VegasCaesars Entertainment won a huge battle by persuading a state judge that a referendum on raising Strip sales taxes for a new arena is legal, but other factors still may bring the project to a screeching halt.

The issue: Caesars and the Arena Initiative Committee want to see the sales tax on the the Strip raised from 8.1 percent to 9 percent, with the increase devoted to funding a new arena in back of Imperial Palace and Harrah’s. The sales-tax hike has been opposed by other casino firms and Clark County, which rejected the proposal last June.

Undeterred, Caesars gathered 200,000 signatures and presented them to the Nevada Legislature, which could have triggered the inclusion of the sales-tax hike on an upcoming referendum. But the Legislature rejected the proposal.

A Carson City district court judge disagreed with other legal challenges to the referendum question, making way for it to be put before voters.

Still, the arena situation in Las Vegas is extremely fluid. The University of Nevada-Las Vegas is still negotiating with Majestic Realty for a new on-campus complex that would include a new arena/events center and a renovation of Thomas & Mack Center. International Development Management is moving ahead with a $1.95-billion development that includes a 17,500-seat arena, MLS stadium and new minor-league ballpark; it will be located across from Mandalay Bay at the south end of the Strip. There’s not room in the market for all three markets, so it will be an interesting fight over the next year to see whose vision becomes a reality.

RELATED STORIES: Renovations pitched for Thomas & Mack Center; Goodman to Vegas group: Show me the NBA contract; Vegas group: We have contract for NBA team if our arena plan is approved; Master plan for Las Vegas arena includes NBA, NHL teams; Las Vegas foundation drops arena effort

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