Executives from Boyd Gaming, MGM and Caesars picked for UNLV stadium board

11 September 2013

LAS VEGAS -- A University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) effort to build a new on-campus football stadium and entertainment center moved forward Tuesday with the naming of three resort-casino executives to a new 11-member stadium board.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board picked one of its own members, Boyd Gaming Corporation Chief Operating Officer Paul Chakmak, as its representative on the UNLV stadium board. Chakmak has an investment banking background and was Boyd’s chief financial officer in the past.

The authority board also nominated executives from two powerhouse casino companies to the stadium panel: Rick Arpin, senior vice president and corporate controller of MGM Resorts International, and Sean McBurney, assistant general manager of Bally’s, Paris and Planet Hollywood for Caeser’s Entertainment.

MGM is building its own 20,000-seat arena, but UNLV officials have said they don’t expect their football stadium to compete against MGM’s project for sports and entertainment shows.

Under state law, the UNLV stadium board would have to approve the appointments of Arpin and McBurney, but that is expected to be a formality.

Eight of the 11 seats on UNLV’s stadium board are now filled. University officials are waiting for the governor, the Assembly speaker and the Senate majority leader to each appoint a member to round out the board.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas won legislative approval for a stadium district and authority board earlier this year. The stadium board will develop cost, scope and funding options for the on-campus center.

UNLV discarded a previous proposal to build a $900 million, 60,000-seat domed stadium called the “Mega-Events Center” because it was too expensive.

A few months go, UNLV also pulled the plug on its former private stadium partner, Majestic Realty, choosing its current course in a direct partnership with the resort industry.

Don Snyder, one of four UNLV stadium board members appointed by the Nevada Board of Regents, welcomed the trio of casino executives as fulfilling the university’s new strategy. Snyder previously served as UNLV’s stadium point-man when the Mega Events Center was still in play.

“They’re high-profile appointments. They won’t be lone voices from their companies,” Snyder told the Review-Journal.

“It’s so important to have a broad-based partnership between the university and the resort community.”

Besides Snyder and the three casino executives on the UNLV board, the other stadium panel members are lawyers Mike Wixom and James Dean Leavitt; ad agency owner Cedric Crear; and Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani.

Wixom, Leavitt and Crear are also Board of Regents members. Chakmak, Arpin and McBurney could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Snyder said that he worked with Chakmak at Boyd Gaming when Snyder was the company’s president and that Chakmak’s banking background will help the stadium board.

By law, the UNLV stadium board must convene in October, with all 11 members in place.

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