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Alan Snel

NFL shows no interest in games at proposed UNLV stadium

17 January 2013

LAS VEGAS -- Boosters of a proposed domed stadium project on the UNLV campus have mentioned an NFL Pro Bowl and NFL pre-season games as potential events that would help generate millions of dollars for the local economy.

But there's only one problem. The NFL doesn't appear likely it would stage a Pro Bowl event or sanction a game at the proposed "Mega-Event Center," as officials for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and their private development partner are calling the proposed 60,000-seat venue.

An NFL spokesman said this week it's unlikely the league would have any interest in staging an all-star game event such as the Pro Bowl at the proposed UNLV stadium. The stadium project is $800 million to $900 million and boosters plan to seek state legislative approval of a tax district contained to the UNLV campus to help pay for construction.

In an email to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote sports gambling in Las Vegas is the reason the NFL would not likely get involved in holding a Pro Bowl or approving preseason games here.

In presentations to the Board of Regents on Nov. 30 and Jan. 11, speakers advocating for the proposed stadium have included the NFL Pro Bowl and an NFL pre-season game as potential events that would help generate $393 million in local spending.

Mark Rosentraub, a University of Michigan consultant hired by UNLV for an economic impact statement, referred to the NFL Pro Bowl and a pre-season game as potential events during his talk before the Regents panel on Nov. 30.

Pat Christenson, president of Las Vegas Events, also referred to the Pro Bowl and pre-season games in his talk to the Board of Regents on Friday.

"Currently, the Pro Bowl is held during the off week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, Las Vegas would be an interesting option for this game that needs a fresh start," according to a handout on potential events at the proposed stadium that was provided at Friday's Regents meeting.

As for the NFL pre-season games, the handout said the Mega-Event Center "will work with regional NFL teams to host an exhibition game."

In an interview with the Review-Journal this week, Christenson acknowledged Las Vegas leaders have not held conversations with NFL officials about moving the Pro Bowl game to a potential new stadium in Las Vegas from Hawaii. He did say that Las Vegas tourism officials have talked with NFL owners about staging a pre-season game in Las Vegas.

But NFL spokesman McCarthy said the league has to approve the location of NFL pre-season games.

Stadium boosters have also mentioned pursuing an NCAA Final Four college basketball event for the stadium. But they did acknowledge a NCAA by-law prohibits the NCAA post-season championship tournament from staging games in a city that features sports wagering.

Christenson said if the new stadium is built, at least Las Vegas can be on the radar for NFL games and the NCAA basketball tournament.

"If we build it, at least we have a shot at something that makes sense," Christenson.

Craig Cavileer, president of the Silverton who is Majestic's pointman on the stadium and student village project, noted other NFL teams play in states where there is sports gambling.

Stadium opponents do not want public money to be used to build the stadium and worry about parking and road problems. Boosters plan to lobby state lawmakers to adopt the tax district during the upcoming session, which starts Feb. 4. They also plan to seek Board of Regents approval of the stadium deal on Feb. 28.