We have a little more information about former UNLV player Jackie Robinson’s proposed $1.3 billion Las Vegas arena project this morning. The Las Vegas Sun reports that the project would use “no tax money,” but would qualify for EB-5 tax credits, the green-cards-for-interest-free-loans program that the Brooklyn Nets used for their arena.
EB-5 is certainly the flavor of the month in sports venue financing — it’s been floated for the Sacramento Kings and Tampa Bay Rays as well, though neither has actually implemented it — but it’s going to be a drop in the bucket on a $1.3 billion project. And it’s important to remember that Las Vegas is traditionally the land where arena announcements go to die — Robinson’s proposed site, in fact, is the same plot of land where Chris Milam proposed his own “privately financed” $1.95 billion multi-stadium project, before revealing that it would actually require tax kickbacks and eventually hightailing it to the nearby city of Henderson, where he proposed yet another stadium complex that never happened. So, grains of salt here.
As for who would play at his arena, Robinson said he hopes to secure an NBA team, touting the fact that NBA VP Kiki Vandeweghe is “one my closest, dearest friends.” Which is all well and good, but he’s going to need more than that (and his former ownership of a team in the extremely short-lived International Basketball League) to get a franchise for a city that has mostly only been connected to the NBA for its disastrous 2007 All-Star Game, though commissioner David Stern does occasionally mention it in laundry lists of possible expansion targets. If Robinson does manage to get his complex built, though, and the NBA either expands or a team is up for relocation, and … you know what, let’s cross that bridge when we can actually see it without a high-powered telescope.