Sin City Secrets

A downtown Las Vegas arena, which could become the home of a future professional sports team, has been talked about for months – but nobody in Sin City officialdom is talking on the record about who the developer might be.

Seven proposals have been received by a committee of the Las Vegas City Council, but mayor Oscar Goodman and city manager Doug Selby say the public won’t be allowed to see any of them before the council chooses the developer, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

"The public doesn’t need to worry. … Trust us," the paper quoted Goodman as saying of the selection process.

The city sent out a request for proposals in April for a downtown arena capable of hosting an NBA or NHL team, and replacing the Thomas & Mack Center on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus as the biggest arena in town.

The arena is expected to be part of a $9.5 billion downtown redevelopment plan spearheaded by the Real Estate Investment Group, which hopes to construct a hotel, casino, retail and residential development that would include a 22,000-seat arena.

The proposed development would carve two and one-half blocks out of the burgeoning Arts District, which has been the source of some controversy in Las Vegas. REI Group got a boost in mid-June when the Arts District Neighborhood Association reversed its position in order to support the project.

Of the seven proposals received, the paper reported that some are backed by deep pockets and have associations with major league sports. That description could fit any number of companies, but AEG certainly comes to mind with its interest in hockey expansion, venue buildings, billionaire chief Philip Anschutz – and building city developments (L.A. Live).

AEG executives were in London at press time, celebrating the grand opening of that city’s O2 Arena, and unavailable for comment.

The arena selection committee formed by Selby will meet and interview representatives from the companies July 12-13.

Selby laid out the process for selecting an arena developer June 20th. He said the secrecy surrounding the bids is necessary.

"We’re doing what we consider to be in the best interest of the city, to get the best proposals we can get," Selby told the Review-Journal. "If we start disclosing everything prior to the selection process, it could compromise the selection process."

State law reportedly requires some bids not be made public "until the bid is recommended for the award of a contract."