(Ron Futrell/Future Vegas Media) – I love to gaze upon the fauxtographs of the brilliant structures. The curves, the rooftops, even the seating charts, all designed to take Las Vegas from the depths of the minors to the glory of the majors in one fell swoop.
Oh, how I hope somebody can make it happen, and how I would hope they would use their own money. Is that too much to ask?
We have no less than 5 (count them—five!) new arena proposals in Las Vegas of varying size and scale that each bring the same promise. Build it and fans from Summerlin to Green Valley will come and watch a losing team for a dozen years (at least.) The Yankees or Lakers ain’t moving here.
I don’t care to address here which one is best, or most viable, or would finally put Las Vegas on the same lofty scale as Seattle (they have plenty of bad big league teams there). I just see them all in the same category.
Paul Tanner and the Super Vegas Downtown Dome.
You remember Tanner, dontcha? He’s the smooth talkin’ Texan who came to town about 15 years ago and sold nearly everybody on his idea of the Downtown Dome around where the World Market Center now sits. Oscar took photographs with Tanner, the media sang his praises and the city fathers united in seeing Tanner as the second coming of Stupak or Minami.
I recall a news conference in 1997 to announce Tanner’s plans to bring the College Football National Championship, the Super Bowl, and the Indy 500 (not sure about that last one, but he did promise the first two) to town. It was an exciting day for all involved as legitimate questions were asked about ingress and egress and illegitimate questions were asked about what faux games would be played in the Faux Dome.
I brought up an issue that I thought was just a little bit critical to this entire process, “Mr. Tanner, do you have the money to build this dome?” He gave a convoluted answer about how he “hoped” to have the financing for the dome and that Lehman Brothers (remember them?) would not be involved in a deal of this magnitude that would not be carried through to fruition. Some bought it hook, line and luxury box and continued the company line that Tanner had sold them. Of course, they never broke ground.
A a few years prior to the Tanner Trick, Richie Clyne called me and told me about a speedway that was being planned in the northeast part of the valley and that a couple of guys named Bill Bennett and Ralph Engelstad were supplying much of the cash. Hummm.
These were the guys who built Circus Circus and the Imperial Palace. I figured they had the cash to make it happen and had the reputation of following through on promises, so if they said they were going to build a speedway, it was pretty likely they were going to follow through. Other than myself and the writers at the Las Vegas Sun, the construction of that facility was pretty much ignored and few considered motor sports viable here in Southern Nevada at the time. I was called a motor sports nut by another newspaper in town just for doing the stories. The 14th NASCAR Cup race will be held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway early next month. I think the Speedway has been rather successful here in town.
By the way, the Speedway was built without the use of public funds. Clyne, Bennett and Engelstad just went out, put their cash and reputations on the line and built the track. Sort of like old Vegas. Pioneers and risk-takers just went out there, put their chips on black and watched the wheel spin. They didn’t ask for public funding (as each of these new proposals are doing,) they ordered the earth movers and concrete pourers and got ‘er done.
Where these new proposals end up, who knows? Is it too simple to ask those involved to see the money and make sure it’s theirs and not ours? I think not. I love sports and I know their value, but I don’t want to pay for an arena unless I choose to buy tickets to the game. I’m an optimist and love the growth we have seen in this city for 30+ years, but even in the best of times, I would oppose public funding of a sports facility, an art gallery or a concert hall on private property.
We in Las Vegas have had an interesting and unique history of schemes and success when it comes to structures, but I will say this, at least Stupak built that tower and Minami dug a hole. I’m guessing few of these plans will even get that far.