LAS VEGAS -- One of the biggest issues in the 2015 Nevada Legislature could be whether to build a brand new stadium on the campus of UNLV.
The first step is for a special board to come up with a plan over the next year.
The plan is not for an arena that would hold 20,000 people, but for a mega-events center that could hold 40,000 people, maybe even 55,000 spectators for sporting events, conventions, or concerts.
The facility could be a game changer.
Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world, but is one of three major urban centers in the United States that is not home to a modern or covered stadium.
UNLV assistant tennis coach Zack Warren likes the idea of a brand new mega-events center.
"I think it would bring in big acts like Las Vegas already does," Warren said, "To have a stadium on campus is always a benefit to the community and to the students to be able to walk to a stadium that is close by."
The UNLVNow project is a proposal to revitalize the northwest part of campus with a state-of-the-art stadium and student village.
First, everything must go through the Campus Improvement Authority, which had its second meeting Thursday.
"These are tough projects. This would be the largest public sector-private sector partnership in the history of the state," chairman of the board Don Snyder said.
The university and the resort industry have almost a year to come up with a stadium plan to present to the Nevada Legislature.
"There have been a lot of conversations about the size of the facility, whether it should be covered or not. This group needs to work through those issues," Snyder said.
The big pitch for supporting the stadium is the economic benefit a stadium would have for UNLV and Las Vegas at large.
"We're missing a piece of our economy, so some people call this a convention center with a football field. I think that is the right ticket," UNLV President Neal Smatresk said.
A University of Michigan study finds 20 events at a new stadium could mean almost half a billion dollars to southern Nevada's hospitality sector and produce almost $50 million in new taxes.
"The Thomas & Mack was built by people who had a dream. I think this facility needs to be built by people who have a dream and it is going to help the city in the same way." Smatresk said.
Whatever happens on this board or in the Legislature, one thing is clear. A new stadium, paid for through a public-private partnership, is a long way off.
It would not open until 2020 or 2021.