LAS VEGAS (AP) - Officials broke ground Thursday on a 20,000-seat arena along the Las Vegas Strip that’s expected to boost the city’s chances of attracting professional sports teams and sate high demand for large-scale concerts and events in Sin City.
Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather arrived at the ceremony Thursday atop a yellow construction tractor and helped executives shovel dirt at the site while confetti rained down from above. Casino company MGM Resorts International and sports and entertainment giant AEG are collaborating on the $375 million project, which is the furthest along of several sports complexes proposed for Las Vegas in recent years.
“They’ve got shovels in the ground,” Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said about the MGM-AEG project, which is expected to create 3,500 construction jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs. “The other arenas are all talk.”
Slated for completion in the spring of 2016, the arena will be the centerpiece of an 8-acre, tree-lined entertainment and dining district dubbed “The Park.” It’s located near the New York-New York and Monte Carlo casinos, between Las Vegas Boulevard and Interstate 15.
“We weren’t looking for a handout,” Murren said. “Every other venture has been looking for someone else to carry the load.”
A proposal by AEG and casino company Caesars Entertainment died in 2012 after attempts to fund the arena through a sales tax hike hit a wall.
Developers called for a 1 percent sales tax on purchases within a 3-mile radius of the venue, but a ballot measure that was required to raise the rate failed to make it to a statewide vote in November 2012.
Similar troubles could face a separate proposal, backed by Mayor Carolyn Goodman, to build a $390 million, 20,000-seat arena near a new performing arts center and outlet malls in Las Vegas‘ revitalized downtown.
Critics take issue with the finance plan, which calls for $151 million from developer Cordish Co. and $187 million in city-issued bonds that would be paid off with arena revenue. Downtown business owners have spoken out against a plan to cover the remaining $52 million by taxing them.
Goodman said the project is moving forward, and more details will be available at the end of the month, when the developer is required to finish feasibility studies.
Murren said his company’s venues turn away hundreds of events each year, signaling more than enough demand for an arena even though Las Vegas already has large-scale event centers.