Make UNLV Now happen

If the goal is to bring tourists to Southern Nevada, this stadium fits the bill

Richard N. Velotta

Richard N. Velotta

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s mission is to put heads in beds.

It therefore should become an industry advocate for the proposed $800 million, 60,000-seat UNLV Now stadium — and direct room-tax money toward it.

Many critics have whined about dedicating so much money and seating to one of the weakest college football programs in the country. But they’re not seeing the big picture.

Officials say the stadium would host other large-scale events that don’t fit in existing Las Vegas venues. It is being marketed as an “indoor mega-event center.” The building would sit on the UNLV campus, be the home of Rebels football and be a tool to recruit better athletes, but it also could host special events and secure the city’s grip on being the premier conventions and meetings destination in the country.

The fact that the stadium will have a roof makes it extremely versatile.

The LVCVA gets thousands of requests a year to host meetings. It distributes the requests to local resorts, whose parent companies pursue negotiations. Some events work best in the Las Vegas Convention Center, which the LVCVA operates.

Sometimes, planners have to juggle calendars to work out the logistics of moving a major show in while another is moving out. Sometimes, dates get changed because an organization wants to stage an event here but all the venues are booked. And sometimes, a group that wants to come to Las Vegas ends up going somewhere else.

My colleague Paul Takahashi recently reported that a University of Michigan study found that 15 new events could result in $393.2 million in new spending in Southern Nevada.

What kind of events could the stadium draw? Think music festivals and mega-concerts. There’s a good list of performers who could fill a 60,000-seat venue. A bigger facility might even reduce ticket prices.

After seeing the success of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas Events, the private nonprofit company that works with the LVCVA on special events, hopes to book similar festivals.

Backers of the stadium have suggested it would allow a new college football bowl game or a Mountain West Conference football championship game to be added to the calendar. With the UFC’s popularity soaring, the venue could host major fights.

Circuses. Marching band competitions. Car shows. Maybe another college basketball tournament to go along with the four already on the calendar?

Some have suggested Las Vegas could host NFL exhibition games or NCAA Regional or Final Four tournament games. Of course, there would have to be a change in philosophy for the NFL or NCAA to play here since their executives object to Nevada’s sports books taking bets on games. (Didn’t anybody tell the NFL that they have sports books in London?)

But there are plenty of other events that would keep the building busy.

There’s precedence for room-tax money to be spent on highway improvements. The LVCVA already doles out some of its budget to venue construction and upkeep.

Leading the charge in devoting a portion of its funds to UNLV Now makes sense. And it would certainly help put heads in beds.

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  1. This is such a no-brainer if people just look at the big picture. This is a project that benefits a lot of different people. It will provide jobs in the construction phase and draw huge events in the years to come. The Thomas & Mack isn't one of the busiest arenas in the country because the Runnin' Rebels are the only event there, it would be the same concept with UNLV Now with over 3 times the capacity.

    I certainly hope the powers that be do not develop narrow vision and kill this plan.

  2. With all of these new events - do you think that the Speedway is going to let an event like Electronic Daisy leave? NO

    They propose other events - well there needs to be other organizers coming in to bring these events to town and all of them will be going to the LVCVA for funding. Where hotel room growth has not been up, even with room rates moving up - the same numbers of people coming to town remain the same.

    There will be push back from the venues in town - especially those connected to hotels - when it comes to bringing something like this to town. Which is a shame, UNLV football needs a new stadium - even while the stadium is one of the best to watch a game from. There just is a laundry list of events - that just are not coming if this is built or need alot of help if they are to come.

    As far as student housing, making UNLV a true university - where is the Greek Row? Something that has been promised for well over 20 years now.