|Las Vegas SunMcClatchy-Tribune Regional
March 01, 2013--MGM Resorts International announced this morning it wants to build a privately funded, 20,000-seat indoor arena behind the New York-New York and Monte Carlo resorts that would host boxing, top-draw headliners and special events.
Its partner is the preeminent sports and entertainment promoter AEG, whose collection of arenas includes the Staples Center and the Home Depot Center in Southern California, the Best Buy Theater in Times Square, New York, and facilities in Shanghai, Beijing, Sydney, Stockholm and elsewhere.
The project is anticipated to be financed with equity contributions from each of the partners as well as privately funded third-party financing, the company said in a statement.
The MGM-AEG arena plans, the latest entry in the continuing and competing efforts to build a free-standing indoor arena in Las Vegas, will not affect the proposed UNLV Now, the "mega-center" stadium project that would reshape the university campus, Don Snyder, the project leader, said.
"The two proposals are pretty much apples and oranges," Snyder said. "UNLV Now is designed for hosting large events that would draw between 25,000 and 60,000 people. There's always been separate conversation about arenas. All along, I've felt that an arena project can be done by individual companies and with private money."
MGM Resorts had initially thrown its support behind UNLV Now but has since said its price tag of $800 million to $900 million was too prohibitive, raising doubts about MGM's $20 million pledge for campus project.
MGM said its arena would be accompanied by retail shops, dining, entertainment and other enterprises between the two properties, stretching from the Strip to Frank Sinatra Drive behind the resorts.
"This new facility would be an extension of our entertainment legacy and continue our leadership position in the worlds of boxing, sports, concerts and other events that drive significant visitation and revenue to Las Vegas," MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said. "AEG's dominant position in arena development, programming and management, makes it an ideal partner for this venture."
AEG President and CEO Timothy J. Leiweke said his company's network of venues "will allow us to maximize booking and operations opportunities."
The partnership with MGM Resorts, he said, "brings together the two largest promoters and operators of live entertainment venues in Las Vegas, guaranteeing the long-term success of the new arena."
Design and planning is well under way, and the partners will begin seeking appropriate approvals immediately, a company spokesman said.
The Los Angeles-based AEG has several connections with Los Angeles real estate billionaire Ed Roski, who is UNLV Now's private developer partner.
Roski co-owns the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Kings with AEG, the world's largest operator of sports teams and stadiums. The Staples Center in Los Angeles, which was developed by Roski, is owned and operated by AEG.
Roski's Majestic Realty, which owns the Silverton Casino, has pledged to front 40 percent of the estimated $800 million to $900 million cost of the UNLV Now stadium. UNLV Now developers are hoping to raise the remainder of the cost from resort industry contributions, naming rights and corporate partnerships as well as a special tax district awaiting approval from the Legislature.
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