Where to Play NBA Basketball in Las Vegas?

I’m sure you heard the “news” – Another professional sports team wants to come to Las Vegas.  Yes, again!  This time are hearing this kind of rumor is regarding the NBA (National Basketball Association). We all are hearing news about NBA coming to Las Vegas and want to confirm its credibility. Media keep prompting at an announcement next week because Las Vegas is considered a frontrunner for NBA expansion, and we can expect to have great news from NBA (?).

 


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For now, I can tell you about the nba.nbcsports.com news with title Jay Bloom reportedly lined up an ownership group to bring NBA expansion to Las Vegas.

What Does Will NBA Team Do?

Some questions always raised when talking about “IF” the NBA gave us a team, where would they play? Where would their area be located?

Would they do what the NHL (National Hockey League) did with the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team and use a facility already opened? T-Mobile Arena.  Or would they be like the NFL Raiders and demand an arena of their own?

First, we have to contend that the NBA is losing fans in a quick and uncontrolled manner. They have openly joined forces with the left-wing militant group, BLM (Black Lives Matter), and that has caused monied fans and some critical corporate supporters to exit fast. They need them to come back in order to be profitable long term.

If the NBA authorities act wisely and do not involve in politics, they surely will have a considerable fan base in few years. Again, the word “IF” comes into play

The NBA’s Place to Play

Not really surprising to those of us who live and work in Las Vegas to know of a place just ripe for a new arena.  In fact, it has been sitting vacant for the last ten years waiting for this moment.  At the north end of the las vegas Strip, next to ‘Sahara Resort’ where the ‘Old Wet-n-Wild Waterpark’ was. That park was closed over 16 years ago in 2004. It is the place where the ‘All Net Resort and Arena’ project broke down.

All Net Sports Arena?

‘All Net Sports Arena’ has been the dream and the brainchild of ex NBA player Jackie Robinson. Do not hesitate if you do not know him. I have also never heard about Jackie Robinson until the project was dreamed up.

In 2013, next to Sahara Resort, his partners purchased a location on the north end of the strip at ‘old Wet-n-Wild Waterpark.’ The site had been planned for an earlier stadium project called Silver State Arena. Later, developers left that place when they learned they would need to pay for the arena by themselves. They were not going to get taxpayer bailouts or any room tax subsidy for this project.

Presently, the ‘old Wet-n-Wild Waterpark’ land is worth 3 billion dollars. This 22-acre site on the north end of Las Vegas Boulevard will be supposed to be a multi-purpose arena with 22,000 seats, a hotel, and a shopping spot. We can’t say much about parking space yet.

Now the speculation is centering that long-mothballed Fontainebleau Las Vegas resort (aka The Drew / The Big Blue Silo) may take responsibility for the hotel and shopping part of this project, and space for the ‘arena’ will remain intact.

The news flash is the Drew project has failed, and another group of investors, including the original developer of the Fontainebleau Las Vegas, now own the resort project. The resort’s main entrance lies almost in front of the property line of the ‘All Net Arena’ site. How convenient!

It Is Las Vegas!

Remember, this is Las Vegas, and we hear rumors like this every week.  Nobody is getting their panties wet yet over this supposed announcement.  When we see the construction boots on the ground and a foundation being poured, then we start putting bets on when it will actually be completed.

Stay tuned to see if this truly happens!

Final Thoughts

Now, if you are smiling with a clenched jaw because you know more news about the NBA and its plans for Las Vegas, Please share here to spread smiles on other faces, too; we will try to stay unusually quiet.

Otherwise, Stay Tuned to see if this really happens!

Owner of the Big Silo still owes contractors $36 Million for work

Fontainebleau the Drew

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What I have come to call “The Big Blue Silo” is in the news again.  The project that is currently referred to as “The Drew”, originally known as Fontainebleau Las Vegas, has come to a halt, again. Partially because of the COVID 19 shutdown of all things fun on the Las Vegas Strip, and partially because the owner has not been keeping up with his bills.

According to an article in today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal, three months after coronavirus turmoil shut off construction, contractors have levied more than $36 million in claims for unpaid bills.

The Drew owner Steve Witkoff had suspended construction of the blue-tinted 67 story skyscraper in the chaotic month of March when the coronavirus pandemic and an overreacting governor sparked sweeping business shutdowns in Southern Nevada.  Witkoff, through a representative, says he hasn’t given up on the 67-story megaresort on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Of all the liens filed, records indicate the biggest one against The Drew is from the  ‎AECOM Hunt and Penta Building Group, a joint venture that was the project’s lead construction team. They initially filed a $29.4 million claim early this month but slashed it on Monday.

The Drew?

Steve Witkoff bought the tower in 2017, with plans to finish it off and to open it as a JW Mariott branded hotel and casino in late 2021 or early 2022.  The blue-tinted resort has stood unfinished since the original developer pushed it into bankruptcy in 2009.  At the time it was over 70% completed and they had over $3 billion invested in it.

Its tall tower shape and blue tint, for me, gave it the look (and the nickname) The Big Silo, glimmering in the Las Vegas skyline.  Totally out of place with the rest of the other structures in the vicinity.  Its emptiness and look of unfinished construction have served as a constant reminder of Southern Nevada’s wild real estate boom in the early 2000’s and the devastating crash(s) that followed.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn bought the mothballed project in 2010 for around $150 million. Never really doing anything to it, he sold the Fontainebleau in 2018 for $600 million to Witkoff and Miami real estate firm New Valley. A nice Return on Investment!

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The Big Blue Silo Gets a New Name

The Big Blue Silo Las vegas

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Fontainebleau, that big blue hulking structure at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip, the Big Blue Silo, the one remaining symbol to the era of Vegas’ unbridled growth and greed, gets a new name and an actual opening date that looks like it could actually happen.

The New York developer Steve Witkoff, who recently purchased the mothballed project from Carl Icahn for $600 million, announced it will be a JW Mariott branded resort with the name “The Drew Las Vegas”.

You read that name correctly.  Don’t worry, you are not the only person who asked “What The F?”  Can we now say that creativity has officially died in Las Vegas? Seriously.  First the SLS, then the Park MGM and now The Drew….

Soaring 60-plus stories above the Las Vegas Strip, the new resort will feature a casino, over 3,500 rooms and more than 500,000 square feet of convention and meeting space. Being right next to the expanding Las Vegas Convention Center, it will be a perfect fit for the Marriott managed property.

The planned opening date is late 2020 and they hired Penta Building Group as the contractor according to filings with Clark County. So they are serious about getting this thing completed.

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The Big Blue Silo?

That has been my nickname for the hulking structure since it was mothballed in 2009 after its builders filed bankruptcy on the $2.8 billion, 3,815-room almost completed resort. Then investor Carl Icahn purchased it out of bankruptcy for $150 million in 2010 and sold all its furnishing to various Las Vegas resorts and hotels.

The left us with a big, blue empty structure resembling a silo.  In 2017, New York developer Steve Witkoff purchased it for $600 million.

2020 looks like it will be a boom year for Las Vegas and grand openings…

FYI: The last new resort to open on the Strip was The Cosmopolitan, in 2010
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Fountainbleau is Sold – What About The Hole?

Our friend, Scott over at Vital Vegas had promised breaking news, that the Big Blue Silo had finally been sold.  The mothballed, eyesore at the north end of the Las Vegas strip had finally found a new owner.  And he was correct as usual.

Witkoff, a global real estate development and investment firm, together with New Valley LLC, an investment company owned by Vector Group, today announced that they have acquired the significantly undervalued resort hotel located at 2755 Las Vegas Boulevard South in Las Vegas (formerly known as the Fountainbleau), for $600 million.

Now, remember, the corporate raider Carl Icahn bought the former Fontainebleau for $150,000,000 in 2010. The resort was approximately 70% completed and is the tallest hotel tower in Nevada.  His price amounted to less than 10% of what had already been invested in it before the markets crashed and the builders went belly up.  He later sold all the furnishings and from reports on the street, just about anything else that wasn’t nailed down, to other resorts looking for an upgrade for cheap. Basically, he made a lot of his money back and didn’t have to do anything.

News of sale blows my long-held belief that the cheapskate that Carl is, that he would buy the big blue silo and turn it into the world’s largest Motel 6! Leaving the light on, up on top just to piss everyone off.

In the end, he bought it for about $6 million an acre, held it 6 years then sell it for $24 million.  Yea, that’s a good deal.

FontaineBleau is really sold

So now the question is: What will become of that big hole in front of the property?  What was once part of Wet n Wild is now a dirt lot with a huge hole in it and is not part of the Fontainebleau project.  It belongs to a project called All Net.  And from the looks of it, the front of Fontainebleau is right where the hole begins.

In 2013, former UNLV and NBA player Jackie Robinson got the big idea of building a multi-purpose sports arena, hotel, and restaurant on vacant land.  Apparently, he found just enough investors to start the digging after he got the go-ahead from the county to move forward with the project. Hoping to be finished and open by Dec. 2016. It appears that date was wrong and the hole sits quietly empty.  The earth moving machines have moved on.

Unfortunately, at $24 million an acre, it’s cost prohibitive to demolish the Fontainebleau.  Something a lot of other investors on the Strip would dearly love. Especially the new buyers of the SLS.  Having the big blue silo there makes it difficult to sell “Strip View” rooms.  Instead, the views are of the MGM Village, Naked City/Crack Alley and the Spring Mountains in the distance.  The Fontainebleau kind of blocks out any real view of the neon Boulevard.

So we are back to the big hole.  No signs if this was part of the deal or if it’s planned to be refilled or did the ex-jock find some more suckers, I mean investors willing to pony up some money to build something that has less room for a stadium with parking than the Vegas Raiders Stadium has.

Read: The Story behind Carl Icahn’s Acquisition of Fontainebleau Las Vegas 

Don’t You Love Vegas Deals??

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