By ALAN SNEL
Jackie Robinson knows there are skeptics and doubters out there. But the former UNLV and NBA basketball player, now an arena-hotel developer, does not pay attention to them.
Keep in mind they were out there before the scope of Robinson’s All Net Arena and hotel project on the north end of the Strip next to SLS Las Vegas drastically increased from a $1.4 billion proposal to a $2.7 billion plan with the following new development features: a 2,000-room, 63-story, 728-foot-high hotel tower; a 240,000-square-foot conference center; a 24-lane bowling alley; a 2,500-seat showroom; and a wedding chapel in the hotel.
All that new stuff is in addition to a 23,000-seat arena, a hotel with 500 rooms, a movie theater and 300,000 square feet of retail and entertainment that was already approved by the Clark County commissioners.
“It is a reality,” Robinson told LVSportsBiz.com after the county commissioners approved all the new expanded elements of the now $2.7 billion project today. “It will happen.”
Robinson said the newly-expanded $2.7 billion arena (with a retractable roof), the 2,500 hotel rooms and everything else will be financed by lender Credit Suisse.
Robinson’s business model hinges on tapping a tourist demographic in Las Vegas that does not want to gamble or smoke cigarettes on an end of the Strip that is far less developed than the south section. He said new hotel-casino projects that have been re-started on the north end of the Strip will supply tourists to use his arena.
“We want to do it right with non-gaming,” Robinson said.
County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said Robinson told him the financing is in place.
“I met with Jackie again and I admire his tenacity,” Sisolak told LVSportsBiz.com. “He says the financing is guaranteed and it’s in place. I will take him at his word. He’s very sincere. He firmly believes in it and he’s a gentleman. I’ll wait and see.”
Three years ago Robinson staged a groundbreaking ceremony on the old 27-acre former Wet ‘n’ Wild water park site. It was the last public appearance by Robinson’s former UNLV coach, Jerry Tarkanian.
Robinson said Comcast-Spectacor, a sports/entertainment and venue management company based in Philadelphia, is still enlisted to recruit programming for the arena. Robinson said he would welcome an NBA team in the arena, which is being built to NBA specifications. But Robinson said his business plan does not rely on having an NBA tenant.
“That would be a cherry on the cake,” Robinson said.
The T-Mobile Arena has since opened on the south end of the Strip and there’s no construction going on at the Robinson arena site. Robinson points out that 500,000 square yards of dirt have been removed at his arena location and the site is ready for pilings to be installed. Robinson said pilings work could begin as early as mid-November.
The arena location is in Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani’s district.
Robinson not only amended his plan. He modified the date when he thinks the arena-hotel project will open. Robinson told LVSportsBiz.com that now he’s aiming for spring 2020.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com