Las Vegas still hopes for Downtown Arena

The Las Vegas Sun is reporting that the City of Las Vegas officials are still holding out hope for a downtown sports arena and gaming mecca in the wake of the REI meltdown.

According to Scott Adams, director of the city’s Business Development Office, the possibility still exists for a sports arena complex, including a casino, on a 56-acre downtown site off Charleston Boulevard.

Though Las Vegas’ deal with arena developer REI Neon appears dead, there is a chance a buyer of the property might want to develop the site as REI once did, Adams said.

And that’s why, until it’s known who will end up owning the land, it makes no sense for the City Council to strip the site of its designated gaming “overlay,” or entitlement.

Critics have said the REI plan was a scheme in which there was never an intention of building an arena on that site.

The backdoor plan, these critics have suggested, was instead to use the gaming entitlement to raise the value of the land, and then sell it for a higher price to a casino developer.

In a recent interview, Adams denied that claim, and said a motion had not been made before the council to eliminate the gaming entitlement simply because the ultimate fate of that land was undetermined.

If the arena plan for that site dies, Adams said, any possibility for gaming would die with it.

Should those acres be sold, together or piecemeal, to businesses or developers who have nothing to do with an arena project, he said, it would make sense — at that point — to have the council eliminate the gaming entitlement.