Sin City is working diligently to bring a professional sports franchise to Southern Nevada. Whether it can support one at this stage is a different matter. The other thing is that the city presently lacks a modern arena to house such a team. Thomas & Mack on UNLV campus seems to have what it takes, yet when the new sports palace is being discussed, the university facility isn't even mentioned as an option.
Now there are two separate stadium proposals on the drawing board. One is by Anschutz Entertainment Group, or AEG, and Harrah's Entertainment and the other by REI Neon/ Warburg Pincus.
The AEG/ Harrah's intends to develop a parcel just east of Paris Las Vegas, easily within walking distance from the Strip. The partnership will soon turn in plans for a $500 million arena to the county for approval and is set to break ground this spring. If everything falls into place, it should open in the fall of 2010. They already are in discussions with both the NHL and the NBA about available franchises.
REI Neon has its eyes focused on downtown where it hopes to develop a large parcel into a massive $10.5 billion multi-use complex, including a modern arena. Project Pulse, its trade name, would have 1,500 condominiums, 6,000 hotel rooms, three casinos and a huge allocation of convention, office and retail space. But it has hit a snag in securing financing for the ambitious effort as many large-scale lenders are experiencing liquidity difficulties and are carefully re-examining their real estate risk factors.
Without a sports team such an arena would face an uphill battle, although AEG/ Harrah's could fill it with other events tied to the Strip environment. Building two of them would surely be overkill and again, should it happen anyway, the near-Strip facility would have an edge. Who first breaks ground is certainly in the driver's seat and most likely to make it.