Vegas Arena Gains Support

A group led by Harrah’s Entertainment that’s proposed building a new arena on the Las Vegas Strip recently gathered more than 200,000 signatures toward an initiative for submission to the Secretary of State’s office.

The measure would generate funds for the project through the creation of a special taxing district on the Strip, tacking on an additional 0.9 percent sales tax.

The arena, which would be constructed on land donated by Harrah’s, could help the region secure a pro sports team, according to former Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury.

Sporting events like the rodeo are often held at the nearby Thomas & Mack Center at the University of Nevada but attempts to lure pro teams to the region thus far have been fruitless.

“The concerns with the existing arenas is not so much seating capacity, it’s that it doesn’t have a lot of features and amenities that a lot of sports teams and special event promoters want – boxes, suites, practice facilities,” he said.

The proposal could head to the state legislature in 2011 if sufficient signatures are verified by an upcoming deadline, or be placed on the 2012 election ballot.

But opponents of the project including MGM Resorts International and a local taxpayer protection organization have gotten creative in their drives to stall the project.
MGM filed suit attempting to halt the petition drive, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, but was shot down in court Sept. 21.

Taxpayers for the Protection of Nevada Jobs has reportedly been collecting signatures from people who had a change of heart and want their names removed from the arena petition. Representatives for the group told the paper they’ll wait and see how many pro-arena signatures are verified before bringing forward their findings.
The biggest threat to the Harrah’s project could very well be the city itself.

Officials in Las Vegas have reportedly been in negotiations with Cordish Cos. to build a downtown arena. City councilors recently voted to release land that had been allocated for residential development to pursue a different kind of development, the Review-Journal said. However, officials were mum as to the type of project under way.