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Nevada governor says state won’t back Vegas monorail bonds

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    The Las Vegas monorail leaves a station in Las Vegas in 2016. Las Vegas Monorail funding and construction plans may be derailed after Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak declined to promise state backing for $200 million in tax-exempt bonds. Monorail Co. administrators sought the funds to pay off a recent $13 million loan and to build new stops near the Mandalay Bay resort and the future site of a sphere-shaped arena near The Venetian.

LAS VEGAS >> Plans may be derailed to extend the Las Vegas Monorail to within walking distance of a new 65,000-seat football stadium, after Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak declined to promise state backing for $200 million in new tax-exempt bonds, a newspaper reported.

Monorail Co. administrators sought the funds to pay off a recent $13 million loan and to extend the track about 1 mile to the Mandalay Bay resort, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported .

Mandalay Bay is the Las Vegas Strip hotel closest to Allegiant Stadium, which is being built for the NFL Oakland Raiders move to Las Vegas in 2020.

Work also would add a stop near an 18,000-seat sphere-shaped arena being built near The Venetian and Palazzo hotels.

In a statement, Monorail Co. spokeswoman Ingrid Reisman said Monday the monorail receives no public subsidies and the expansion would help reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.

“These types of benefits typically require communities to commit millions of dollars in tax subsidies for construction and ongoing operations,” she said.

Company president and CEO Curtis Myles said Thursday that the monorail had multiple other options, the Review-Journal reported.

The newspaper is owned by the family of casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, the 86-year-old chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas Sands. His corporation also owns The Venetian and Palazzo and is partnering with New York-based Madison Square Garden Co. in the spherical-shaped arena project.

Adelson also is a major donor to national Republican party candidates.

Sisolak, a Democrat, gave “careful consideration” to the request to provide state backing for the 30-year bonds, spokesman Ryan McInerney said in a statement.

The Review-Journal noted the monorail company filed for bankruptcy in 2010, while remaining in operation, and failed to repay $650 million in state-backed bonds issued in 2000 to build the 3.9-mile (6.3-kilometer) track. It connects the Las Vegas Convention Center with stops near several Strip resorts.

The two new stops have been touted as key to luring riders and selling more tickets. The monorail has failed to meet ridership and passenger fare revenue projections, and has not obtained financing for a proposed extension to McCarran International Airport.

The company emerged from bankruptcy in 2012 after reducing its plan for bonded debt from about $40 million to $13 million. The federal bankruptcy judge in Las Vegas who handled the reorganization derided the project as “nonsense on stilts.”

The Review-Journal said documents obtained through a public records request showed monorail lobbyist Kris Ballard warned Sisolak’s office the state could be forced to take ownership of the monorail system.

It said the Monorail Co. lenders might not want the track and equipment if the company couldn’t pay existing debts and again sought bankruptcy protection.

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