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New Vegas arena plan moves forward; mega-sports complex in play?

NBA horizontal logoWith a new Vegas arena, potential new pro soccer stadium and luxury resort on adjacent lots on the south end of the Strip, pro sports in the form of the NBA and MLS could dramatically impact the Las Vegas tourism scene.

In late March Oak View Group announced an ambitious $3-billion arena/entertainment district at the south end of the Strip, near a high-speed rail station and potentially a new MLS stadium. Scheduled to begin construction in 2023, the arena/entertainment district will be built on 25 acres near the intersection of I-15 and I-215 and feature an 850,000-square-foot-arena, casino, hotel and an additional entertainment venue amphitheater. Featuring as many as 20,000+ seats and modern amenities that will include suites, and premium hospitality clubs, the arena will host live events, including concerts, sporting events, family entertainment, conventions, large meetings, award shows, exhibitions and more. (You can read all the details about the announcement here.)

Since then Oak View Group has hired Randy Morton, formerly co-CEO of Foley Entertainment Group (which owns and operates the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights), as president of OVG Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, joining former Las Vegas Raiders (NFL) exec Marc Badain and a key player in development of Allegiant Stadium, who is now president of OVG Las Vegas Sports & Entertainment. Those are some impressive names leading the creation of the $1 billion arena and the associated luxury resort development.

The location of the new Vegas arena is on 25 acres near the intersection of I-15 and I-215, with the potential location of a new Vegas MLS stadium as part of the potential Brightline railway development to the north. (Yes, we are using the word potential a lot right now.) This development would feature both a new stadium for an MLS expansion team owned by Wes Edens–the prime investor between the LA-Vegas high-speed Brightline rail line and an owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks–and new development. Add that new development to the new development associated with the Oak View Group, and potentially more in a land parcel to the north–and you potentially have a transforming set of circumstances in that southern part of the Strip.

Even if the new Vegas arena happens with no interaction between the other players in the area–which seems unlikely (we’ll get to that in a minute)–Oak View Group still should trigger a big change and force a shift of economic gravity in Las Vegas. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Badain: I’ll start on the arena side. We’re looking to build the greatest arena on Earth, and Las Vegas needs it and Las Vegas deserves it. If you look at the trajectory of music venues and sports venues in Las Vegas of this size, it’s about every 10 years for a new one. You could go back over time and see that evolution of facilities. By the time we open our venue, it will be about 10 years since they opened T-Mobile (Arena) and it’s time to have a new venue in Las Vegas that’s worthy of Las Vegas. The market has shown its ability to absorb new venues and has enough capacity and enough programming to do it. It’s time to put the investment behind it and the folks at Oak View Group are the best in the world at doing it and have just completed a number of venues and bring all of that expertise and all the best practices from those venues and apply them to Las Vegas.

Morton: We’re at the early stages and, and obviously this is day 2 for me, so it’s very exciting with the early stages with master-planning and design and development of a luxury boutique casino-resort. The integration of the arena and the connectivity to the site is very exciting. And I love the location. It’s easy in, easy out with multiple ways in off I-15 and, of course, I-215, which is very exciting and very appealing to all customers. I’m starting the process with Gensler (one of the design architects) and with Marc and we’re very excited to be working on the master-planning and get going on the layout of the flow of the project. It’s easy in and out off Las Vegas Boulevard South into this amazing casino-resort and arena….

Badain: What we’ve said publicly is what I’ll say to you: We’ll build an NBA-ready venue, but it’s not our decision. Decisions are made at the league level. There are 30 owners and they’ll decide where they want to expand if they want to expand. I know there’s been a lot of chatter in the media, but we’re going to stay out of that chatter and we’re going to be very respectful of the process and when the ownership group in the NBA and the commissioner of the NBA decide they want to expand, we’ll have a venue that’s ready for them and if they want to be in the Las Vegas market, we’ll be an option for them.

Perhaps the biggest news here: the three land owners have have been in contact about the potential of some sort of coordinated development. (Yes, we are using the word potential a lot.) From Badain:

Badain: You really have about a 270-acre parcel when you take a look at that piece of land. I think you remember that was one of the locations that was mentioned for the (Allegiant) Stadium site five or six years ago. The rail station gives you a chance to really add to the density of the entire parcel. So if you have our project on 25 acres, and then there’s 41 additional acres that’s part of our parcel that will be developed, and then there’s about a 110-acre parcel for the high-speed rail station and a soccer stadium and then another 60-plus-acre parcel north of that. So, you’re really talking about a massive amount of development that’s going to occur there over the next five to 10 years. When you talk about the high-speed-rail station, I know they have some very exciting plans for what they may build around it in terms of potential mixed use, whether it’s commercial space, residential space, hotel space, stadium space. You have a lot of options there and it’s one of the last major pieces of undeveloped land on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Again, we are using the word potential a lot. And we may enter a situation where all three parties decide to take their own paths and not coordinate efforts. But that would seem to be a waste, with lots of potential going down the tubes. Las Vegas is transforming into a premier venue area, and adding a billion-dollar NBA arena and a new MLS stadium to the mix would be highly transformative, to say the least.

This article first appeared in the Arena Digest weekly newsletter. Are you a subscriber? Sign up here!

RECENT STORIES: Oak View Group unveils plans for $3B arena/entertainment development; Las Vegas’ MSG Sphere takes shape; Long-awaited Vegas arena-resort project funded

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