Ghosts of Stadiums Past

The T-Mobile Arena opened this week, and Sheldon Adelson is trying to rally support for a domed stadium that could house a National Football League team. While many may think Las Vegas has arena fever, don’t forget the decades of failed proposals that never made it out of the dream phase. Here’s a look at some of the arenas and stadiums that never were.

Major League Soccer Stadium (2015)

The City Council narrowly approved a plan to build a $200 million soccer stadium in December 2014, pending Major League Soccer approving an expansion franchise in Las Vegas. The 24,000-seat stadium was expected to generate $23.9 million in revenue, with a projected average attendance of 18,000 per game, according to developers the Cordish Cos. The
city would have contributed $56.5 million to the project.

Many opposed the use of public funds for the stadium, and began collecting signatures to put a referendum on the ballot for June 2015. However, before the issue got to the ballot, Major League Soccer told officials that Las Vegas wouldn’t get a franchise because of the uncertainty of the stadium project.

Major League Soccer Stadium.

Major League Soccer Stadium.

Wranglers Arena (2014)

Former Wranglers President Billy Johnson proposed building a tent-like, 45,000-square-foot structure in the Plaza parking lot with an ice rink and seating for 3,500 people. The arena was intended to be the new home of the Double-A East Coast Hockey League team after its lease at the Orleans Arena was not renewed.

Johnson axed the $4 million plan, telling the Las Vegas Review-Journal that it was a cost and time issue. The team voluntarily suspended operations for the 2014-2015 season in order to find a new home and in January 2015 disbanded.

UNLV Now (2013)

Los Angeles-based developer Majestic planned to build a 60,000-seat stadium for UNLV football games and major events. The project, which reportedly could’ve brought $600 to $800 million in economic impact to the region, was nicknamed the “Southern Nevada Mega-Events Center.”

A special tax district was proposed to lawmakers in the 2013 legislative session to pay for the $770 million stadium. But in March 2013, UNLV dropped Majestic as a partner, saying the developer was disrupting UNLV Now’s relationships with the university and the Strip’s resort industry.

51s Stadium (2013)

Cashman Field has been the home of minor league baseball in Las Vegas since 1983, so it seemed time to upgrade. Steve Mack bought the Las Vegas 51s in 2013, and with the help of Howard Hughes Corp., created Summerlin Baseball LLC in hopes to move the team to a proposed $65 million stadium close to Red Rock Resort.

Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Mack never came to an agreement on the project, but the 51s are still looking for a stadium with better amenities. Also, the 51s agreed to a 10-year lease extension at Cashman Field in October 2012. So maybe we’ll have an answer in six years.

Las Vegas National Sports Center

Las Vegas National Sports Center

Las Vegas National Sports Center (2011)

Chris Milam thought of a $1.5 billion idea to build four stadiums in a diamond formation on 485 acres near the M Resort. There would be a baseball stadium, an indoor arena, an open-air stadium and a 63,500-seat domed stadium. This was Milam’s plan to lure a professional sports team to the Valley. The Bureau of Land Management, which had the rights to the land in question, pulled the plug, and Milam was sued by the City of Henderson for fraud in connection with the project.

Silver State Arena (2010)

The Sports Center was not Milam’s only attempt. The previous year, he proposed a 20,000-seat arena on the former Wet ’n Wild site that could be home to an NBA team. However, his dream soon dissipated when Clark County refused to pay for 15 percent of the project with public funds.


REI Neon.

REI Neon (2008)

The NBA held its All-Star Game at the Thomas & Mack Center in 2007, but it wasn’t suited for a pro team. So the REI Neon group proposed a 22,000-seat arena in Downtown, and Mayor Oscar Goodman was enthusiastic about the idea. However, after 14 months of negotiations, the City Council decided to pass on the $10.5 billion mixed-use project, citing the troubled economy.

Montreal Expos Stadium (2004)

Think about the possibility of Bryce Harper playing for his hometown team. It could’ve happened. Las Vegas Sports and Entertainment LLC hoped to construct a 40,000-seat, retractable-roof stadium that would’ve brought the Expos to Las Vegas. In the end, Major League Baseball’s concerns about gambling proved too much of an obstacle. Instead, the Expos announced their move to Washington, D.C., to become the Nationals on September 30, 2004.

Spring Training Facility (1994)

Then-Las Vegas Stars General Manager Don Logan proposed a 220-acre, 24-field complex that included a 5,000-seat stadium for spring training. The facility would allow four Major League Baseball teams to move their operations to Southern Nevada by 1999. The Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds and Kansas City Royals were targeted as the teams to relocate to Henderson if the proposal passed.

Despite civic support, the teams wouldn’t commit until the construction was done and each wanted $1 million. In 1997, the LVCVA voted against the project, saying it was a bad investment of tourism dollars, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Dodgers were also interested in moving spring training to a Southern Nevada facility, but those plans were eventually scrapped.