Replacing The Mack?

A seven-member Las Vegas task force will study the feasibility of building a new events center that could replace the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ 18,500-capacity Thomas & Mack Center.

Pat Christenson, task force chairman and president of Las Vegas Events, said the group of city, county and gaming industry representatives met May 18th to discuss criteria for hiring a consultant to get the process going.

During that meeting, Mayor Oscar Goodman reportedly threw a wrench in things when he told the group he’d been approached by two parties interested in bringing the National Hockey League to Glitter Gulch and would continue talks as the study moves forward, according to the city’s Sun and Review-Journal newspapers.

Christenson said the mayor was looking for direction from the task force and was not trying to circumvent the group.

“The mayor is a little anxious and I think he was wanting to move forward while we were in progress,” he told Pollstar. “We basically agreed that during the 90 days, it would be in everybody’s best interest to see what the task force and the consultant come up with before we move forward.

“What we’re trying to do is get all the information out there first. Let us do the research and let us figure out if a professional sports team is something that fits into the puzzle.”

The analysis will offer guidance on whether the 23-year-old Thomas & Mack Center – and the 3,174-capacity Cox Pavilion – can remain competitive with some renovation or if going with a new state-of-the-art venue is the best choice. How to finance the project will also be analyzed.

“What I like about the process is it isn’t being forced by major league sports. Because of the interest of professional sports, at least by different municipalities, we’re going to do a comparative study with a professional team and an arena without it,” he explained. “The beauty of Las Vegas and these events we already do at Thomas & Mack will help drive a lot of the value.

“It will help drive club seats and naming rights because there’s some very high-profile events,” he added.

The task force plans to hire a consultant by mid-June. The city and county are splitting that cost, estimated at $200,000.

– Tina Amendola