The UNLV football program took another step towards becoming a legitimate program when the university’s Board of Regents voted 4-2 on Thursday to approve a plan to finance a state-of-the-art training complex. The amount that was agreed upon by the six-member panel was $16 million.
President Len Jessup told the group that donors have vowed $19.4 million, but that a $16 million loan was necessary, because only $6.4 million has been raised and the funds were needed for the groundbreaking. Regent Trevor Hayes, who cast one of two no votes, was not sold on the scheme, however.
“I see the importance of it for the football program, and the need for it to flourish,” he said. “But I don’t have a great deal of confidence in any of the numbers.”
Construction is scheduled to begin in December and should take about 10 months to complete at a cost of $28.5 million. Jessup told the board that donor pledges are at $19.4 million, including a $10 million gift by Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta.
The complex will be called the Fertitta Football Complex and will feature academic center, strength and conditioning center, locker rooms, coaches offices, meeting rooms, players’ lounge, team theater, media room, training table, nutrition bar and a sports medicine center.
Fertitta Family’s Las Vegas Roots
The Fertitta family promised the contribution a year ago and other notable celebrities followed suit. South Point Casino owner Michael Gaughan contributed $1.5 million and George Maloof, UNLV alum and former owner of the Sacramento Kings and the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, gave $500,000.
The brothers just completed selling off their remaining shares in the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC). The value was listed at $5 billion. They bought the nearly bankrupted organization in 2001 for $2 million. They also own Station Casinos and Red Rock Casino. Palace Station was built by their father in 1976.
Third cousin Tilman Fertitta owns the Golden Nugget franchise in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Biloxi, and Laughlin, Nevada, and just purchased the Houston Rockets on Monday for $2.2 billion.
Raiders Coming to Town
One selling point the university will have that many don’t is that it will share a stadium with an NFL team. The proposed Raider Stadium is expected to be completed by the 2020 season, and as part of the deal to relocate from Oakland, UNLV will play their home games there.
The 65,000-seat facility will be west of the Las Vegas Strip, and UNLV is not expected to be charged rent, but instead will reimburse the team for its use. Other issues the two entities have yet to work out include what type of playing field will be used. University officials want artificial turf, while the Raiders prefer grass. Specific costs on stadium expenses also have to be negotiated.
Construction is supposed to begin before the end of the year and the cost is estimated at $1.9 billion.