As far as the city of Las Vegas is concerned, the battle to bring an NFL stadium to the Cashman Center site isn’t over.
The Las Vegas City Council directed staff Wednesday to continue pursuing options for the roughly 50-acre complex north of downtown that includes the Las Vegas 51s’ aging ballpark and convention space. Planting an NFL stadium or the team’s practice facilities on the plot remains high on the city’s priority list.
The city even worked with a firm to create architectural renderings, showing a football stadium surrounded by an 18-story boutique hotel, soccer arena and entertainment district at the site.
“You cannot do what we’re proposing on our site on any of the (other) sites currently being studied,” Deputy City Manager Scott Adams said. “This is a much more exciting site.”
The city’s renewed push for Cashman coincided with Gov. Brian Sandoval’s announcement today that a special legislative session to consider stadium funding and other tourism-related matters will begin Monday morning. The governor will issue a formal proclamation Sunday.
Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., wants to build an estimated $1.9 billion stadium that could attract the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas. The proposal involves a $750 million public contribution, with an additional $500 million from the football team.
During months of public meetings where the idea was discussed, the developers identified a number of possible locations for the stadium, including Cashman, which sits within city limits. They later narrowed the sites down to two locations — acreage immediately west of Interstate 15 and north of Russell Road and land now occupied by Bali Hai golf course.
The developers’ apparent dismissal of Cashman, likely because of its distance from the Strip, didn’t deter city staff or Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who made impassioned pitches for the site at the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee meetings.
City officials said they met with Sands and Raiders executives and gave them the rundown of Cashman’s selling points. Among them: the site’s existing infrastructure, access to both Interstate 15 and U.S. 95 and potential cost savings.
Compared with the other sites under consideration, city officials estimate the Cashman site could cut the project bill by $272 million, largely based on cheaper land, transportation improvement and infrastructure costs.
Councilman Bob Coffin said making Cashman a desirable location is reliant on beautifying the surrounding neighborhood and linking homeless people living in the area with services.
“If you can’t clean that up, we will not be seriously considered,” he said.
City officials estimate demolishing the existing Cashman complex to make way for new development would cost roughly $5 million.
Earlier this year, the city forged an agreement with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which currently owns and manages Cashman, to transfer the property back to the city if redevelopment plans solidify.
The Las Vegas 51s, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets, have a lease at Cashman that doesn’t expire until 2022; however, the team’s owners have expressed a desire to move the minor league baseball team to Summerlin.
The hourlong discussion likely won’t be the city’s last effort to bring the stadium to its soil. Staff are forming plans for how to promote Cashman as the best stadium site to lawmakers during the special session next week in Carson City.
“Whatever the decision is there, we are still alive,” Goodman said.