Tahoe Chamber strongly supports events center (Opinion) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe Chamber strongly supports events center (Opinion)

Steve Teshara
Guest column
Steve Teshara

The planned Tahoe South Events Center will be a pivotal catalyst as Stateline, Nevada seeks to contribute to the revitalization of the South Shore and Douglas County. This editorial summarizes why the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce (Tahoe Chamber) is an active project advocate.

Today, there are two very different Stateline landscapes. 1990s redevelopment on the California side was the stimulus leading to development of the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, Heavenly Village, the Heavenly Gondola, and, more recently, the emergence of new commercial and lodging projects across from Heavenly Village.

In short, California redevelopment transformed the community, revitalized the economy, and significantly improved the built environment.

By contrast, the Nevada casino core looks largely frozen in time dating back to the 1980s. Existing conditions include environmental decline in the built environment, falling employment — 7,000 jobs lost since 2000 — and a decrease of 40% in the assessed valuation of resort properties.

The annual revenue loss to Douglas County is more than $1.2 million in property tax alone. Between 2000 and 2018, Stateline gaming revenues plummeted from approximately $350 to $200 million per year. The South Shore is no longer a marquee gaming destination.

In 2016, recognizing the ravages of decline, Douglas County commissioners made the findings of economic blight required by state law and established County Redevelopment Area No. 2. This generated fresh impetus for development of the multi-use event center envisioned for many years as a trigger to reverse the decline of Nevada Stateline and falling County revenues.

In 2019, the Nevada Legislature also recognized the need for economic revitalization at Stateline and authorized a funding mechanism to cover the majority of events center construction costs and its on-going maintenance.

The Tahoe South Events Center will be owned by the Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority, a public agency created by the Nevada Legislature in 1997. It will be managed by a professional events center management team under contract with TDVA.

Year around, the facility will offer performing arts, concerts, sports tourism, and other entertainment as well as conventions, trade shows, and corporate retreats, many of which are off-peak and mid-week.

Today, South Shore loses large group business to other destinations because we lack venue capacity. We know that several South Shore community groups that depend on major fundraisers have also reached the capacity for growth at existing event facilities.

Studies have identified an annual positive economic impact generated by the center of $30 to $60 million, with an estimated 800 temporary construction jobs, and 250 to 400 new jobs. The center will benefit our seasonal workforce, particularly with new opportunities during shoulder seasons when they are the most vulnerable to the loss of employment and income.

The project’s environmental analysis identifies a variety of air, scenic and water quality improvements associated with the center. Extensive studies were completed to determine traffic and related impacts.

The TDVA and its project team have been working with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and other parties to develop an adaptive project monitoring and mitigation package that, among other goals, would ensure a net-zero (no increase) in vehicle miles traveled.

There will be deed-restricted occupancy limitations during peak seasons. A “free, frequent and fun” microtransit (shuttle) system will be launched when the center opens providing service throughout the Nevada-California “tourist core” and connecting to local public transit and area recreation sites. Transit and parking demand management strategies will be coordinated with development of the Main Street Management Plan of the US Highway 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project.

In view of these substantial economic and community benefits, the Tahoe Chamber has been actively engaged throughout the events center planning and development process.

Stateline resort operators are committed as are other tourist core area lodging and business owners in the bi-state tourist core.

Edgewood Tahoe has agreed to donate land for the project at the corner of US 50 and Lake Parkway in what is today part of the surface parking lot at Montbleu. Edgewood’s donation is worth an estimated $10 million.

The Tahoe South Events Center will mark the most significant investment on the Nevada side of Stateline in decades, accelerating the area’s transformation from a gaming-driven market to a contemporary resort destination featuring entertainment, sports, public assembly, enhanced opportunities for performing arts, and broader variety of special events.

Consistent with our mission and vision, Tahoe Chamber is proud to be an active advocate for this project and the transformation it represents.

For more information about the Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority and the Tahoe South Events Center, please visit tahoedouglasva.org.

Steve Teshara is the CEO for the Tahoe Chamber.

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