Question of the Day September 19, 2014
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Q:Today sees the concluding part to "Plans, Projects, and Pipe Dreams: The Trilogy", a recap and update of all the major construction projects that may, or may not, be happening around the Las Vegas Valley.
A:In yesterday’s QoD, and the original question that spawned these follow-ups (see QoD 9/3 in the QoD Archives), we dealt primarily with those projects that are definitely active (well, time will tell when it comes to Resorts Las Vegas and the All Net Arena-Resort...).
Today, we conclude with the remaining big ideas that have not yet commenced but which likely will see the light of day, together with some of the long shots that may -- or may not -- make it off the drawing board, starting with arenas.
- When it comes to arena plans, we’ve been watching four major stadium projects over the past few years. One -- MRI/AEG Las Vegas Arena -- is definitely being built and was covered in yesterday’s answer, as was the more speculative plan from Jackie Robinson for a non-casino resort and arena on the former Wet ’n’ Wild site. The third stadium that, after a nearly five-year saga of now you see it, now you don’t, might come to fruition (though we’d be surprised), is Cordish Companies’ Arena/Live!, a joint venture with Findlay Sports and Entertainment, the group that’s trying to land a Major League Soccer franchise for Las Vegas. Financing ($410 million) and a commitment from MLS are required for this stadium to be built and the group has until December 1 to lock in both. Two soccer expansion teams are up for grabs, for which cities all over the country are competing.
- The fourth arena proposal was recently scrapped by UNLV, which had announced plans to build a 50,000-seat on-campus football stadium in 2011. The initial location was nixed by the FAA due to its proximity to McCarran Airport. Two other locations were considered, but infrastructure costs were prohibitive. After acting university president Don Snyder claimed that the timing wasn’t right for the project, the 11-member board in charge of the stadium, required under law to present a finished proposal to the state legislature by Oct. 1, asked the Campus Improvement Authority Board to delay the project by two years, tentatively bringing it to the 2017 legislature. The Improvement Board approved the delay. The timeline extension must now be confirmed by state legislators.
- It was back in late 2011 that local design-build contractors Breslin Builders (the outfit behind the Downtown Container Park, among many other ventures) announced the planned remodeling of the Akita Retail Plaza at the south end of the Strip (most notably home to a McDonald’s), which was to be transformed into the Akita Events Center, a 50,000-plus square-foot multi-use events venue slated to include a flexible 1,600-plus seat-concert venue, a nightclub, an exhibition hall, a 6,000-square-foot restaurant space and -- the distinct detail that got many people excited -- the return of Speed: The Ride, the awesome roller coaster originally located at the Sahara. In April of that year, the company announced that it had begun dismantling the ride at the defunct Strip property ... and dismantled it has remained ever since, lying in a vacant lot nearby. Following a prolonged silence and little, if any, perceptible progress on the main venture, in January of this year Breslin issued an upbeat update, assuring anyone who cared that it was still all systems go on this ambitious venture, we note that any mention of Speed: the Ride was conspicuous by its absence, and we can’t help but think that the elements must be taking their toll on its naked components. If this project isn’t going to come to fruition, then we can only hope another buyer for the cool and sadly missed attraction will come forth, even if a second life requires it moving out of state, as was the fate of MGM Grand’s SkyScreamer attraction, which found a new home at Fun Spot America in Orlando.
- In 2013, the Las Vegas Convention Center -- originally built in the ’50s -- completed a $20 million upgrade that included an exterior paint job, a major expansion of the Green Parking Lot, more than a million square feet of new carpeting, and an energy-efficient lighting refit. This was a prelude to the far bigger plan for the Las Vegas Global Business District. This $2.3 billion project has not yet commenced construction but is scheduled to take place in two phases, with Phase One including the addition of 750,000 square feet of new exhibit space and 187,500 square feet of supporting meeting space as part of the total 1.8-million-square-foot expansion. Phase Two will focus on renovating the existing facility and includes a 100,000-square-foot general session space and another 100,000 square feet of meeting space. Including public areas and service areas, the expansion and renovation will expand the facility from its current total footprint of 3.2 million square feet to nearly 5.7 million square feet. Once construction begins -- and we don’t know when that will be -- the entire project is expected to take between five and eight years to complete.
- Back in the summer of 2013, Clark County Commissioners green-lighted plans for a new 26-story, 100,000-square-foot hotel-casino on Flamingo Road, on the plot between the Tuscany and the former Key Largo. The Dynasty Hotel & Casino was slated to debut as early as 2015, but we’re not aware of any action to date on this one and have seen no further details, so we’re not holding our breath.
- Finally, Aussie billionaire James Packer recently paid $280 million for the 35-acre site of the former New Frontier Hotel-Casino next to Trump International. The plan is for Packer’s company, Crown Resorts, Ltd., to build a $2 billion Las Vegas Frontier that will open sometime in 2018, but it’s very early days as far as this one’s concerned, and Packer has not had a great track record with getting anything off the ground in the U.S., so we’re inclined to take a wait-and-see stance, once again.