What will Las Vegas do with a first class stadium of the sort Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson has proposed?
That’s like asking how high is up?
Big things will happen. The sky is the limit. No question about it?
The project Adelson and others have been imagining will guarantee Las Vegas’ continuing center stage position in the world of creative people who design the biggest crowd-pleasing events.
Veteran gaming executive Phil Flaherty, who has spent time helping nurse creative gaming concepts, believes Las Vegas becoming home to an NFL team is just a matter of time. It’s already the largest U.S. metropolitan area without a major league sports team, a situation that will change as big thinkers shake off the confining limits of outdated thinking about regulated sports betting.
But Flaherty (and probably others) are already looking beyond the significance of becoming home to an NFL franchise.
“With a nice new stadium,” he says, “Las Vegas should consider putting in a bid to become the permanent home to the Super Bowl.”
A little far-fetched? Possibly, but such a bid would make a statement about Southern Nevada’s ability to think big and turn unique thinking into a crowd-pleasing reality.
“Not a bad idea,” says Gaming Hall of Fame bookmaker Vic Salerno who has already demonstrated his own flair for creative thinking. He believes a new stadium should seat 80,000 or more, a figure that would enhance a Las Vegas stadium’s appeal to NFL owners.
It’s easy to imagine such possibilities, particularly if an NFL franchise does not arrive any time soon. But Salerno takes a build-it-and-they-will-come attitude to the notion of a domed stadium’s significance.
As a neutral site, Las Vegas could host special games and events in the same way London hosts NFL games a couple times a year.
Which brings us to the point in this discussion where all we have to do is imagine the stadium happening.
That’s easier than ever thanks to MGM demonstrating its ability to create a venue such as the T-Mobile Arena, which is opening this week and immediately hosting an impressive lineup of concerts and athletic events.
And it all came together without the necessity of public money, which made everything far easier than it would have been had MGM decided to get the politicians involved with their tendency to turn nice little parades into 99-car train wrecks.
Private deals have previously produced some very impressive results.
Many Las Vegans have forgotten it was the late Bill Bennett and Ralph Engelstad, owners of Circus Circus Enterprises and the Imperial Palace, respectively, who created the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a project that has produced very impressive returns in the 20 years since it opened.
“It was Ralph’s idea,” Bennett told me one day, “all I did was write checks.”
It was another example of Las Vegas becoming a development and design center for ideas with big appeal. Special events with their need for special facilities have been big generators of revenue during recent years.
The millions spent to create unique showrooms have been important to the success of Cirque du Soleil. The showroom at the Wynn-Encore complex is a world-class facility.
The additional meeting space provided by companies such as MGM and Las Vegas Sands have helped guarantee the city’s continued lofty standing as a convention center with global appeal. The continuing expansion of facilities controlled by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority have kept Southern Nevada at the front ranks of locales able to service the biggest conventions.
A stadium that compares with the best anywhere would fuel a lot of possibilities for events that generate big spending in the Las Vegas area.
Companies such as MGM, Wynn Resorts and Adelson’s Sands have been heavily focused on Macau for several years, but the uncertainties of business there may have companies turning attention back to Las Vegas.
There’s nothing like the clarity that makes it possible to shape satisfying decisions and keep a company in control of its own destiny.
Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: .