LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- University of Nevada Las Vegas officials have been given the go ahead to develop a 50,000-seat football stadium on campus.
Earlier, the university had planned to build a 40,000-seat stadium, but the Board of Regents on Thursday approved the development of a larger stadium.
UNLV President Neal Smatresk announced the plans during the Board of Regents meeting Thursday. He also said that a special taxing district, once seen as essential for the facility, might not be necessary.
Future plans are to include the stadium, shopping, student housing and parking on the site, now a parking lot for the Thomas & Mack Center at the corner of Tropicana and Swenson avenues.
The regents also agreed to extend a negotiating agreement between UNLV and Majestic Realty for another 180 days. Regent Mark Alden was the lone vote against the extension, saying he disagreed with exclusive agreement, because UNLV sits on public land.
A consultant said the larger stadium gives more flexibility and doesn't limit the types of events that could attracted to Las Vegas.
Backers and UNLV officials announced the project in February. They had planned on getting the State Legislature’s OK to create a special tax district wherein taxes collected on the site would help pay for the project.
No public money has been spent on the project, said Gerry Bomotti, the university's senior vice president for finance and business. He said none would be spent, either.
But the Legislature failed to pass such a measure.
Smatresk said that failure gave officials time to rethink what had been a rapidly planned project.
The president brought in University of Michigan sports management professor Mark Rosentraub, to help revamp the plans.
Rosentraub and UNLV officials told the regents that they would detail plans for the stadium in the coming months and have plans to present to the regents in June.
Rosentraub has consulted on stadiums around North America, including the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Indianapolis Colts play, and a new arena for the Edmonton Oilers hockey team.
Craig Cavileer, president of the Silverton Casino and a Majestic executive, told the regents that the project likely would be completed in stages.
The stadium would come first.
"Our enthusiasm for this project is as strong as ever," he said. "This is a big vision and those don't happen overnight."
Both he and Smatresk said it is too early to know whether the tax district will be necessary eventually.
Smatresk said another financing option might be naming rights, though that was only a possibility.
He said the student village concept -- student housing, shops and parking -- will not go away.
"That is essential," he said.