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Tourism agency in talks to take over Las Vegas Monorail

Friday, July 17, 2020   /   by Ken Couture

Tourism agency in talks to take over Las Vegas Monorail

The Las Vegas Convention and Tourism Authority is in talks to buy the Las Vegas Monorail, the head of the tourism group said.

“We think that the monorail is an important transportation option when the destination is at full strength,” Steve Hill, president and CEO of the LVCVA, said at a board meeting today.

“It moves nearly 5 million per year, and a lot of those people are attendees here at the (Las Vegas) Convention Center. We want to make sure that the monorail system has the ability to continue to operate in the coming years,” he said.

The elevated train, which runs a 3.9-mile route along the Strip, is owned and operated by the private Las Vegas Monorail Co.

Conversations about acquiring the monorail were initiated in January but were expedited in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which caused the monorail to shut down in March, Hill said.

Hill didn’t set out a timeline for a deal and declined to answer question about the ongoing talks after today’s meeting.

Opposition to the deal, however, emerged almost immediately from Las Vegas Mayor and LVCVA board member Carolyn Goodman.

Goodman referred to the monorail as a “bottomless pit” for cash and said it would make more sense for a company like MGM Resorts International to purchase it.

“I would be absolutely opposed to LVCVA funding it,” Goodman said. “Part of it is because it doesn’t go to the airport and doesn’t go downtown. It very much serves MGM properties, and they were looking at purchasing it in order to take the monorail over to Mandalay (Bay) so it could service Allegiant Stadium.”

Earlier this month, a Las Vegas Monorail Co. spokeswoman said the nonprofit outfit hopes to be running again sometime this summer.

In October, the Monorail Co. announced it had funding for a new station — it has seven now — to service the Sands Expo Center, Venetian and the under-construction MSG Sphere entertainment complex.

The company has also announced plans to expand farther south on the Strip, with a new station near Mandalay Bay. Those plans are on hold for now.

Asked for comment, Monorail Co. officials did not directly address the sale talks. The company instead issued a statement saying it is “exploring ways to be able to open the system at the appropriate time and aid in the recovery of the tourism economy, while ensuring the future viability of the system."

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