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Vegas Monorail Pitching Plan for Extension Toward Stadium

Operators of the Las Vegas Monorail see new hope in increased ridership with the proposed Las Vegas football stadium.

Thu November 03, 2016 - West Edition
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LAS VEGAS (AP) - Operators of the Las Vegas Monorail are pitching a plan to county lawmakers to extend the elevated people-mover closer to the site where a 65,000-seat football stadium could be built.

Monorail officials are scheduled Wednesday to ask the Clark County Commission for up to two years to arrange funding to extend the 3.9-mile track about a mile farther down the Strip - from the current end of the line at the MGM Grand resort to the Mandalay Bay.

A pedestrian bridge could then be built to span Interstate 15 to a proposed stadium site.

Previous estimates put the cost of a monorail extension at $100 million, but system spokeswoman Ingrid Reisman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal ( ) that costs will depend on designs.

State lawmakers approved a financing plan last month for the $1.9 billion stadium, including $750 million in hotel tax funds, hoping to entice the NFL Oakland Raiders to move to Las Vegas.

Billionaire casino mogul and newspaper owner Sheldon Adelson has pledged $650 million toward the stadium, while the Raiders and the NFL have promised to kick in $500 million.

County commission chairman and Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee member Steve Sisolak said a monorail extension linking Las Vegas' largest convention venues makes sense.

“Something needs to be done with transportation on the Strip corridor and with the convention centers,” Sisolak told the Review-Journal. “There needs to be a better way to move some of these people.”

The monorail began running in 2004 along a Z-shaped route east of the Strip, with a trip from near the Sands Expo at the Venetian to the Las Vegas Convention Center to the MGM Grand taking about 14 minutes.

Adelson's company owns the Sands Expo, the Venetian and Palazzo resorts. The Adelson family owns the Review-Journal.

The monorail has had a troubled financial history, and has never met the 19-million-per-year ridership projections offered before state lawmakers approved tax-exempt bond financing and construction began in 2001.

Monorail ridership in 2015 was 5.1 million, the Review-Journal reported, well below the 7.9 million riders carried in 2007.

The system filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2010 after failing to pay off construction and startup costs. It exited bankruptcy proceedings in 2012 with its nonprofit status intact.

Plans to extend the line 2 miles to McCarran International Airport and 2.5 miles to downtown Las Vegas have never materialized.

The Strip monorail extension was included in a traffic assessment commissioned by the Nevada Department of Transportation.

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