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New NBA-ready arena in Vegas future?

Norm Clarke

February 24, 2017 08:47 AM
Arena land
This is the land on which a $5 billion project would sit, including a 22,000-seat arena.

By Norm Clarke

VSiN.com columnist

T-Mobile Arena may soon have company on the Strip.

Mass excavation for a $5 billion project that includes a 22,000-seat arena at the north end of the Strip could start as early as April, a member of the prospective ownership group said Thursday after a meeting of the principals and investors at Park Tower.

Backers of the project, which would be completed in late 2019, believe they have an advantage in landing an NBA franchise because it would be a non-gaming property.

Jim Murren, MGM Resorts International CEO, told the Review-Journal in October that he is actively pursuing an NBA team for T-Mobile Arena.

The arena, a joint venture between MGM Resorts and entertainment giant AEG, opened in April between New York-New York and Monte Carlo.

The rival arena is planned for the 27 acres between Carl Icahn’s unfinished Fountainebleau and SLS. Former Sahara owners Paul and Sue Lowden have owned the site for decades. The land has been vacant since Wet n’ Wild water park closed in 2004 after nearly 20 years.

Former UNLV basketball star Jackie Robinson has been the point man for the new arena for nearly a decade.

The source said Robinson recently acquired the main financial backing from Boston Asia Capital, which stepped in when the original Chinese backing was “too slow, too hard.”

In 2010 Texas developer Chris Milam was working with the Lowdens on a $750 million, 20,000-seat arena. When that unraveled, he attempted to put together a sports stadium deal in Henderson, but legal issues derailed that plan.

The source said the principals at Thursday night’s presentation included the Las Vegas-based Cuningham Group. “They will be the architects,” said the source.

The project would include a Marriott property and an ambitious underground piece. 

The scene and heard

Celine Dion has reportedly completed three tracks on her English album titled “Recovering.” Last summer she disclosed that singer Pink wrote a song for her. Her love for haute couture continues to expand. She’s going to be Donatella Versace’s guest at the Met Gala in New York May 1.

On this day… 

February, 24, 1989: The Nevada Gaming Control Board fines Imperial Palace owner Ralph Engelstadt $1.5 million for keeping a secret room full of Nazi knick-knacks and holding birthday parties for Adolf Hitler. Engelstad, who could have lost his casino license, apologizes and vows no more Hitler parties.

February 25, 2004: The Killers, a rock band that started in Las Vegas, come home for a show at the Ice House early in a lengthy world tour to support their smash debut album “Hot Fuss.” The band’s first live performance was an open mic night at Café Expresso Roma across from UNLV, where they practiced on occasion and wrote music.

Sightings

Former Las Vegas Academy grad-turned “Dancing with the Stars pro” Julianne Hough, at Kumi Restaurant and Bar at Mandalay Bay on Wednesday…

Reality show star NeNe Leakes, dining with eight of her friends at Beauty & Essex (Cosmopolitan) on Wednesday… 

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, chilling out at Intrigue (Wynn) on Saturday, amid swirling trade rumors.  

The punch line

“A restaurant here in New York has started selling a so-called ‘New Yorker milkshake’ which comes topped with whipped cream a slice of cheesecake. Which means the next topping you’ll get is a coffin lid.” – Seth Meyers

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