City of Henderson Outdueling City of Las Vegas For Major League Team Presence, But Playing In Big Leagues Carries Public Price
Here’s VGK mascot Chance as part of a ceremony to build the Golden Knights community ice center in Henderson. Photo credit: Daniel Clark/LVSportsBiz.com
New Raiders HQ in Henderson. Photo credit: Tom Donoghue
By Alan Snel of LVSportsBiz.com
Poor city of Las Vegas. For so many years, Mayor Oscar and Carolyn Goodman Inc tried unsuccessfully to plant a major league sports team inside the city limits.
Clark County is shutting out the city. Big-time. T-Mobile Arena? It’s in the county. And so is the Raiders’ palatial new domed stadium. Even the swanky $150 million minor league baseball park is in Clark County, though it’s called Las Vegas Ballpark under an $80 million naming rights deal (a story for another time).
And now comes along the city of Henderson, the classic Second City in the shadow of its more-famous sibling, Las Vegas. And these days, suburban Henderson is out major-leaguing the city of Las Vegas.
The Vegas Golden Knights have built a $25 million community ice center called Lifeguard Arena on 3.2 acres at 240 South Street in Henderson. The facility will be similar to that of City National Arena, the VGK’s headquarters and training center in Summerlin. You guessed it: City National Arena is in the county, not in the city of Las Vegas.
Speaking of the Golden Knights, they are teaming up with the city of Henderson to rebuild the Henderson Pavilion at Green Valley Parkway into an $84 million, 6.000-seat minor league hockey arena to house the VGK’s Silver Knights Triple A minor league team in the American Hockey League. The Henderson Silver Knights will play in the Orleans Arena before moving into their new minor league hockey venue in Henderson.
And the city of Henderson welcomed the Las Vegas Raiders’ coaches this week to their new team headquarters across the street from the Henderson Executive Airport.
Building designer Leo A Daly worked with Manica Architecture to create the 336,227-foot Raiders HQ facility on 30 acres with another 25 acres open for development. The construction cost at the 55-acre site for the training center/HQ was $158 million. Here are more details on the Raiders HQ in Henderson.
But nothing is for free when a city wants to play in the majors.
The city of Henderson initially invested $10.75 million in VGK’s Lifeguard Arena, which will host the Silver Knights practices. Then, the city council approved another $3.2 million March 17 to expand the building footprint and improve interior facilities in order to accommodate the Silver Knights team. This augmented agreement brought the Lifeguard Arena investment to $13.95 million — nearly $14 million.
The city also earmarked another $42 million in public dollars for the $84 million Henderson Events Center/Silver Knights arena project.
And on the football side, Henderson gave the Raiders a $6 million price break on the team headquarters’ land, which was valued at $12 million.
That means the city of Henderson has invested $61.95 million in the community ice center, the Silver Knights’ arena project and the Raiders HQ during the past two years.
Is it worth it?
Well, that’s for city of Henderson residents to decide.
Henderson is hardly a stranger at trying to play in the big leagues. A dubious developer from Texas named Christopher Milam was embroiled in a lawsuit with the city of Henderson in 2014 after he promised to build a major league sports venue near The M hotel-casino in the city. He used the promise of major league sports to get a sweetheart purchase deal on BLM land thanks to the city of Henderson’s help, but never delivered on the pro sports stadium.
It’s commonplace for cities across the country to give public dollars to sports interests because of the allure of being a “big league” city. The city of Hernderson has even entertained communications with the MLB Arizona Diamondbacks, but it’s just as commonplace for cities to be used as pawns in leverage plays orchestrated by major league sports teams as part of efforts to win subsidized venues.
The city of Las Vegas has attempted to recruit MLB and NBA teams, but failed. It also tried a deal to build a Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium in Symphony Park in 2015, but Goodman Inc. failed at that one, too.
Now, the city is negotiating with a dealmaker named Floyd Kephart of The Renaissance Companies on a public-private proposal to redevelop a mile-long stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard, including rebuilding the Cashman Center into a 25,000-seat MLS stadium in downtown. Kephart’s group includes billionaire investor Seth Klarman.
If the city reaches a deal with The Renaissance Companies, the Las Vegas Lights FC soccer team of the 35-team United Soccer League will be sold to Klarman. It’s unclear if Klarman is a big soccer fan, or if this is a big land play and development project to be flipped.
There’s Floyd Kephart, The Renaissance Companies head addressing the Las Vegas City Council last year. Photo credit: J. Tyge O’Donnell/LVSportsBiz.com
The Golden Knights plan to show Lifeguard Arena to the media Friday. The community ice center is expected to be very similar to the City National Arena facility in Summerlin. The Knights did not get any public money for that ice center in Downtown Summerlin unlike the ice facility in Henderson.
The Golden Knights staged downtown watch parties and events in downtown Las Vegas where VGK sponsor and Circa owner Derek Stevens is a major player.
But when it comes to playing in the major leagues, the city of Las Vegas has a lot of work to do to catch up to the city of Henderson.