Southeast of Las Vegas and Sahara

Just south of the Sahara Las Vegas (formerly the SLS, formerly the Sahara again) is a 26 acre level plot of dirt. In 1984, the same plot saw the construction of a sort of oasis in the desert: the Wet'n'Wild water park. This highly inadvisable name has somehow been reused by a different, unrelated, water park, located outside of the metro area. Sometimes bad decisions come in two.

The Wet'n'Wild was a $14mm project incorporating a a 170' wave pool (powered by “three turbine engines,” something I badly want to know more about), 17,000 sq ft surf lagoon, and 76-foot water slide. All these numbers aside, the WnW was apparently a success, with increasing attendance through the '80s. Fortunes had apparently changed by the '90s and early 2000s as the park changed hands five times, ultimately closing in 2004.

The land sat apparently disused until 2007 when Publishing and Broadcasting Limited and Christopher Milam arranged to purchase the site for $1.2bn, about $46mm per acre which is by far the highest price I have seen on even Strip real estate. They intended to spend a further $5bn developing the Crown Las Vegas. This deserves some discussion.

The Crown Las Vegas would have been the tallest structure in the United States. The tallest structure in the United States. Right there, jammed in between the SLS and the El Rancho or whatever they were called at the time. 1,887 feet tall. Five billion dollars.

Amusingly, the plan fell not at the hands of its $5bn budget or generally grandiose hubris, but rather the FAA, which outright rejected the notion of such a tall structure so close to McCarran Airport. The FAA described it as a “hazard to aviation,” as they apparently lack the jurisdiction to label it a hazard to common sense. The developers compromised and reached an agreement with the FAA on revised plans at 1,064 feet tall. These plans, then, fell to hubris, and the project was more or less cancelled in 2008 after the developers failed to produce funding to complete the purchase of the land.

In 2010, Christopher Milam returned to announce the Silver State Arena on the land. This project had a relatively quite modest budget of $750mm but failed after Clark County declined to declined to contribute public funds. Silver State Arena plans changed to various other sites several times but were never actualized.

Las Vegas arena plans bloom eternal and in 2013 Jackie Robinson, possessing the unique qualification of being a former NBA player, proposed the the All Net Resort. “Net” in this context apparently referred to basketball and not the internet of the '90s. This $1.4bn complex would incorporate an arena and a resort casino. The long-term goal was apparently to bring an NBA team to Las Vegas. Ground was broken in 2014, and the All Net was announced to open in 2017, which was pushed to 2018 and then 2019. After fits and starts, in 2017 construction either continued or restarted, depending on how you look at it, and Clark County issued final permits. Completion was announced for Spring 2020. The total project budget was estimated at that time as $3bn.

In mid-2019, speaking to 3 News Las Vegas, Robinson said that they hoped to “start construction soon” and that completion would take “three years.” Perhaps now we're on for 2022?

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  • Last modified: 2020/11/16 23:46
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