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Las Vegas’ new arena site has seen big plans come, go

Less than 4 miles south of Mandalay Bay, a stretch of land along Las Vegas Boulevard is little more than a big patch of dirt. But not for lack of effort.

A developer sought to build a domed stadium and an arena on the site during the mid-2000s bubble. A decade later, someone else wanted the Raiders’ new stadium there.

Now another group has stepped forward with another proposed arena for the site.

Live entertainment firm Oak View Group announced plans this week for an estimated $3 billion complex at the northwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Blue Diamond Road. It would feature a roughly 20,000-seat arena, a hotel-casino and an amphitheater.

Founded by sports and entertainment executive Tim Leiweke and music manager Irving Azoff, a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Oak View expects to break ground on the 25-acre project next year.

Prospect Street founder Scott Goldstein, who bought 60-plus acres of land at Las Vegas Boulevard and Blue Diamond in February for nearly $99 million, confirmed Friday that he is under contract to sell the project site to Oak View.

Las Vegas has a long history of developers pitching big ideas and never following through, including for arenas and stadiums, and it’s not uncommon for a property in Southern Nevada to see multiple real estate plans come and go.

Still, major projects do get built in America’s gambling capital, and there are always plenty of people willing to spend time and money outside the casino floors in a tourism hub with an ever-growing menu of sports and entertainment.

Former Raiders President Marc Badain, who is working with Oak View on the project, told me Friday that the site is close to freeways and major roads, and he noted that more entertainment venues were built in Las Vegas over the years as visitor volume grew.

“It mirrors what we’ve seen historically succeed in Vegas,” Badain said.

If others had their way, Oak View’s site wouldn’t still be an empty plot.

In spring 2006, the Review-Journal reported that a Texas development firm wanted to build an 80,000-seat domed stadium and a 25,000-seat arena on land now owned by Goldstein.

Then-Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman was less than enthusiastic about the proposal, outside his jurisdiction in unincorporated Clark County.

“Show me the money,” Goodman said at the time. “I’ve seen many of these projects. They say it’s going to do this, it’s going to do that, then the whole thing ends up in the toilet.”

In December 2016, the site’s longtime former owner Fred Nassiri appeared at a Las Vegas Stadium Authority meeting and, during public comments, offered his land as a site for the Raiders’ stadium, meeting minutes indicate.

His representative, Don Murphy, pitched the land again at a Stadium Authority meeting in January 2017, telling the board that the property has an “iconic Las Vegas Boulevard address” and multiple access and exit points.

Months later, the Raiders bought more than 60 acres at Russell Road and Interstate 15 for $77.5 million.

(The Stadium Authority was “not directly involved in the stadium site selection,” a spokesman previously told me.)

Speaking of the Silver and Black, Allegiant Stadium is one example where a massive project — a $2 billion venue backed by $750 million in taxpayer funds — was actually built after several other plans for the site fizzled out.

Since the 1970s, other ideas there included a 1,000-space travel trailer park; a 3,000-room hotel complex; a 7 million-square-foot project with hotels, a convention center and condos; a high-speed train station; a nearly $2 billion project with an arena and two stadiums; and a 2 million-square-foot fashion expo center.

See? If you keep rolling the dice, you’re bound to win at some point.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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