UNLV Now’s Wishful Thinking

UNLV Now – the master plan that is designed to bring an indoor covered football stadium to the UNLV campus – is slowly making progress towards reality. The problem is that their envisioned reality doesn’t seem to match up with the real world (Executive Summary, full report – both in PDF).

The most problematic thing is they’re selling the stadium under the guise of having 15 major events per year to bring in additional tax revenue. There list is as follows, with critical commentary about each idea.

1. PAC-12 Football Conference Championship Game (December)

They start the list off well – this is something that could easily happen. Along with one neutral-site PAC-12 game each year (earlier in the season). (+1)

2. NFL Exhibition game (August)

The report authors are on crack. The NFL hates Las Vegas and legalized sports betting with a passion, and there is no way the league would allow a game to be held one mile from The Strip.

3. New College Football Bowl Game (December)

While I think we could get a better bowl game, its not going to be a big blockbuster game and definitely wont be a BCS game (the NCAA doesn’t like Vegas/betting much either). (+1)

4. Neutral Site College Football Game (Fall)

As mentioned above in #1, this is likely to happen. (+1)

5. Second Neutral Site College Football Game (Fall)

I’m not so sure about a second game – we need to get one game first, establish it, and make sure that the teams coming to Vegas are happy with the results before we start thinking we can get a second. We’ve been talking about a second NASCAR race here for a long time, but that hasn’t happened yet (though we have gotten the end of the year celebration). That said it could happen – Las Vegas has been very successful in recruiting west coast basketball conferences to host their games here – neutral court as well as being an attractive tourist destination with a variety of hotels and prices available to different kinds of fans. (+0.5)

6. International Soccer Festival (Summer)

This would be good, we’ve had a few soccer games here before, and I’m sure we can attract a lot of foreign visitors (thanks McCarran for the new T3, its very nice!). (+1)

7. Electronic Music Festival (2 to 3 days, Summer)

While it would definitely be easier for the EDM kids to go by shuttle bus to the new stadium instead of the speedway, there are several reasons I don’t think this will work.

1) Most large music festivals are held outdoors and in large flat areas – not in an indoor stadium. EDC, Coachella, Bonaroo, Glastonbury – all outdoor festivals. This project doesn’t have large grassy areas for festivals to be held.

2) Capacity – I don’t think you’ll be able to accommodate 100,000 people per night in a 55,000 seat arena, even if you open up most of the field area. Plus, EDC has multiple stages, not possible in a football stadium – you’d have to setup other stages outside the stadium in the adjacent parking lots and even then I don’t think they’re big enough for EDC-level of attendees.

The LVMS is the only places in town, other than the Convention Center, that could host the EDC. If ticket prices and how quick they sell out are any indication, EDC would like to grow, not shrink, their event here in Vegas.

8. Country Music Festival (either with ACM weekend or another time) 2-3 days

Yup, this would be a fan favorite! (+1)

9. UFC International Fight Week (Summer)

Another good event – UFC could fill most of the 55,000 seats assuming the stadium has a Cowboys Stadium-like video system. (+1)

10. Tour Concert (Summer)
11. Tour Concert (second, Summer)

Two major tour stops are a reasonable assumption, the question is what bands or performers can you think that would sell more than 25K tickets to a stadium show in Vegas? U2. Whatever the latest Disney-manufactured sensation is. Thats about it. Plus, the casinos hold the monopoly on most concerts nowadays (either MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay for very large events). (+2)

12. Winter Kick Soccer Festival (February)

Two soccer festivals in one year? Lets not push our luck.

13. Rock Music Festival (Summer)

This faces the same problems as the EDC above – the fact that it is indoors and doesn’t have a lot of room around the stadium for multiple stages and multiple bands going at once. You could have one stage at the football stadium and one at the T&M, but that goes back to them both being indoor setups, not traditional music festival setups.

14. X Games (Summer)

Possible, but I don’t see Vegas getting it every year – maybe every other year or third year in rotation with LA and San Diego. (+0.5)

15. NFL Pro Bowl (January)

See #2 above – the NFL hates our guts. Not happening.

16. MWC Football Championship Game (December)

The football side of the MWC is a joke. Sorry, but considering how all the quality teams are leaving to go to other conferences, it just shows we’re the ugly kid at the prom. This will happen in future years because the MWC has 10 football teams, but that doesn’t mean its going to attract a lot of ticket sales and major national attention (e.g. TV ratings). (+0.5)

17. NFR Closing Event (December)

Yup! I would just hold the entire NFR at the stadium, one of the halves of the bowl and then sell 25K tickets, much like they do with playing basketball games in football stadiums. It might not be the best fit but its more seats than the T&M allows for now. (+2.5)

Also, they listed a possibility of other events coming to Vegas based on talks with the LVCVA.

18. Wrestlemania

Do people still watch wrestling? Do they know its fake? Its like a soap opera for angsty kids and teenagers who cant control their anger so they have to live out violence vicariously. I guess we could get one occasionally, but wrestling doesn’t seem that big here in Vegas – why not just go all-in and watch UFC? (+0.1)

19. Republican or Democratic National Convention

I highly doubt either party wants to hold their convention in the “city of sin”, where “what happens here, stays here”. Too much fodder for their opponent.

20. NCAA Final Four Basketball Championships

No. Again, the NCAA hates us. Not happening at all. Never.

21. Comic-Con

I am a nerd and would love Comicon to be in Vegas, however 1) I don’t see how a stadium helps when we already have the logistical critical mass necessary in terms of hotel rooms and convention space and 2) its gone from nerdy things to pop-culture things in the last few years and I don’t see how Vegas fits into that (its gone Hollywood, and its a 2 hour drive to SD, and a 4-5 hour drive to Vegas). That said, they could finally hold a Firefly/Serenity panel at the stadium and not reach maximum occupancy! 😉

22. Boxing

Yes, but no one really cares about boxing unless there is a fight between Mayweather and Pacquiáo. And who knows when that’ll actually happen. (+0.1)

23. MLS All-Star Game

Yes, but again I don’t see Vegas getting one of these every year – just a once every 5-10 years thing. (+0.1)

24. Corporate Events

Sure, but I don’t think we’ll see a lot of them filling up the joint, especially in light of the ridiculous amount of convention space already present in Las Vegas. (+0.1)

If you count up the list of all the annual events, and partial (every other year or every third year) events, you get a total of 12.5 events annually, below the 15 they are targeting for their tax revenue generation promises. So take almost 20% off their tax revenue estimates before you take those numbers and plug them in elsewhere.

Las Vegas needs a nice, “major league” stadium. But don’t use inflated numbers to justify it, it’ll only come back and bite you in the ass. Besides, after looking at the UNLV master plan, there is no way they would have adequate parking for the stadium’s events – the master plan shows taking away more than half of the T&M parking and then adding the stadium to that, with only a few thousand additional parking spots added back into the mix. So the new stadium would have less parking that the current T&M has now. Good luck with that!

One thought on “UNLV Now’s Wishful Thinking”

  1. Anthony, congrats… this type of analysis indicates your MBA studies are in effect. My comment, always; it is not what you don’t know that will hurt you, it’s what you don’t know – that you don’t know – that will hurt you.

    Assumptions are just that. The combined list of intelligent people who contributed, then synthesized assumptions down to the published list is vital data. Possibly, the “published list” also becomes a mechanism to spawn other thoughts, and other people to contribute more ideas… let the crowdsourcing begin. Merry Christmas.

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