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High-Stakes Las Vegas Stadium Gamble May Go Bust While Another Moves Forward

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Developer Chris Milam's planned 750,000-sq-ft, 16,500-seat sports arena in Henderson, 12 miles south of Las Vegas, may be headed for bust. Due to fraud concerns, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has delayed the potential sale of 480 acres to Milam's Silver State Land LLC 40 days until Feb. 6. at the request of Henderson City Attorney Josh Reid.

Image Courtesy of IDM LLC
Plans for a $1.5-billion stadium in Las Vegas are on shaky financial ground.
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Milam had submitted a $2.1-million deposit in June for the $10.56-million purchase; the balance was due Dec. 3. Reid wrote in a letter addressed to the BLM that the federal land deal "may not be valid and appears to be tainted by fraudulent representations." Milam and his investors have been "actively promoting" the land for prospective residential development, "in direct contravention" of the BLM deal, Reid wrote.

Milam rebuffs those claims, but admitted in a letter to city officials his Las Vegas National Sports Complex cannot get the funding needed without "a revised plan and new agreement." Milam announced in February 2012 that Shenzhen, China-based China Security & Surveillance Technology has tentatively agreed to provide a 42-month, $650-million loan for an indoor basketball arena designed by 360 Architecture, Kansas City, Mo. Construction was expected to begin as early as October 2012, with Turner Construction Co., New York, as general contractor.

Milam tried three times unsuccessfully in 2011 to build similar projects in unincorporated Clark County and Las Vegas, including a $1.57-billion three-arena scheme in downtown Las Vegas. The Austin, Texas-based developer is currently facing a $1.1-million fraud judgment for a failed Las Vegas condominium project in 2005; the judgment is under appeal.

Meanwhile, billionaire Ed Roski’s $800-million domed football stadium at the University of Nevada Las Vegas is still moving forward. The 60,000-seat steel-and-glass venue will be located on 60 acres northeast of Harmon Avenue and Swenson Street in central Las Vegas. The Clark County Commission approved the land sale on Nov. 20. The new venue will serve as home to the UNLV Rebels football team, which currently plays at the 41-year-old, 36,800-seat Sam Boyd Stadium located 7 miles off campus.

The project will be a joint venture between UNLV and Roski’s Majestic Realty Co., which has built 6.7 million sq ft of commercial projects in Southern Nevada since 1989. Roski is co-owner of the NBA Los Angeles Lakers and NHL Kings, plus developer of the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Roski additionally operates the 300-room Silverton Casino Lodge, on 80 acres, in southwest Las Vegas. Commerce Construction, a Majestic affiliate, will serve as general contractor, with Design Development Group and Populous as project architects.

About $270 million of stadium construction costs will come from long-term naming rights and advertising; another third will be generated by from concessions revenue, with the remaining balance coming from tax-incremental financing that the Nevada State Legislature will be asked to approve in 2013.

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