Las Vegas sports arena backers turn in signatures |

Las Vegas sports arena backers turn in signatures

CARSON CITY (AP) – Backers of a proposed sports arena on the Las Vegas Strip said Monday they have enough signatures to take the matter to the 2011 Legislature – or put it to voters the following year.

Former Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury said organizers collected more than 200,000 signatures statewide from voters in each of Nevada’s three congressional districts – more than twice the number needed.

Tuesday is the deadline for initiative petitions to be submitted to the secretary of state’s office. If enough signatures are verified, the matter would go to the Legislature when it convenes in February. If lawmakers reject it or fail to act, it would automatically be placed on the 2012 general election ballot.

The measure would authorize creation of a special taxing district in the Strip area, where an additional sales tax of 0.9 percent would be imposed to fund construction of the arena on land donated by Harrah’s Entertainment.

Woodbury said an arena would help southern Nevada lure a professional sports team, keep the National Finals Rodeo, and “benefit the entire community and the entire state by helping to recharge our economy.”

Many events like the rodeo are now held at the Thomas & Mack Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“The concerns with the existing arenas is not so much seating capacity, it’s that it doesn’t have a lot of features and amenities that a lot of sports teams and special event promoters want – boxes, suites, practice facilities,” Woodbury said.

“The existing arenas just do no fulfill so many different requirements.”

The plan has been opposed by some other Strip resorts since its inception because of concerns it would take business way from their own venues.

Other initiatives seeking to change state law were not as successful.

One to tax and regulate adult use of marijuana by licensing retail stores and growers was shelved after signature-gathering efforts sputtered. At least 97,000 names are required to qualify.

“We didn’t have money to collect signatures,” said David Schwartz, manager of Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws.

Nevadans sanctioned medical marijuana use with final passage of a constitutional amendment in 2000, but attempts to legalize adult recreational use of pot have now failed four times since 2002.

A measure that would have required union organizing votes be conducted by secret ballot also failed. Steve Wark, a Republican consultant and chairman of the “Save Our Secret Ballot” advocacy group, said backers planned to try again in 2012.

Another initiative launched earlier this year by outgoing Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons would make public employee bargaining sessions subject to the open meeting law. Gibbons on Monday said the signature gathering process was suspended because conservative Republicans in the state Senate agreed to sponsor a bill enacting the changes during the upcoming session.