LAS VEGAS -- A sports arena planned by Caesars Entertainment suffered a major setback Wednesday after the Nevada Supreme Court shot down a ballot initiative that would have created a special taxing district to build an arena near the Las Vegas Strip.
Caesars Entertainment had high hopes for a 20,000 seat arena behind the Flamingo and Imperial Place.
Supporters collected 200,000 signatures to get this issue on the ballot, but justices said the ballot language was misleading and deceptive. Of the 200,000 signatures collected, 135,000 were validated by the Secretary of State's Office.
In their ruling, the justices said voters would have no idea that this venue could only be constructed on Caesars- owned property, but the revenue raised from increasing the sales tax 0.9 percent in the tax district would be used for building and maintaining the arena.
Marybel Batjer, vice president of public policy and corporate responsibility at Caesars, said the company is disappointed in the ruling.
"(An) arena in the center of the Strip would have been fantastic, create much needed jobs immediately and ongoing," she said. "It would establish the fact that we have to remain the entertainment capital of the world and in order to do that, Las Vegas needs an arena that can compete with some of the other new arenas that are being built across the United States."
Batjer said the company would have donated the land to the Las Vegas Arena Foundation Board, which was developing the project.
At this stage of the arena game, the UNLV Now arena project is still proposed, with an on-campus stadium that could attract up to 60,000 spectators.
The Las Vegas National Sports Complex, a four-stadium venue, could be built near the M Resort.
And Mayor Carolyn Goodman still wants a professional sports team to call a downtown arena home. She is working with the Kornish Companies, a Maryland developer, and is racing ahead to build an arena at Symphony Park.
"Until the money's in the bank and the shovels (are) in the ground, that's it," she said. "And we don't see that yet.
"We have people that come up to me with some regularity, or to my husband, and say, 'I hear this may come, I want a box.' Not ‘I want some seats.' 'I want a box. What can we do? Can we invest?'"
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