Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020 | 2 a.m.
Editor’s note: As he does every August, Brian Greenspun is turning over his Where I Stand column to others. Today’s guest is Debra March, who has been mayor of the city of Henderson since 2017.
When I was elected to serve the residents of Henderson, I knew challenges were part of the job. But I was beyond excited about the city’s future and its remarkable trajectory from a small but mighty industrial town whose creation was driven by World War II to one of the country’s fastest-growing municipalities where major new development is fueling significant investment and enhancing quality of life. While the COVID-19 crisis has affected every inch of our world, I remain confident as ever in the resiliency of Henderson.
Today, despite the pandemic, the city is continuing to make positive headlines that are impossible to ignore. From the Google data center to Lifeguard Arena, where the Henderson Silver Knights will practice, to the continued expansion of Nevada State College and Henderson Hospital, along with a second Amazon fulfillment center, the Haas Automation manufacturing plant and the Raiders practice facility, there is a steady drumbeat of exciting news contributing to the city’s evolution.
The reimagination of the Henderson Pavilion into the Henderson Event Center, an enclosed, 6,100-seat multipurpose venue that can be used year-round, is an especially important project in the city’s ongoing economic growth strategy.
While beautiful in concept with its signature white canopy, the pavilion never realized its potential. Outdoor venues like the pavilion — particularly in climates like ours where desert heat is brutal, seasonal winds are brisk and winter chill is real — have limited use. From the beginning, it was fraught with design challenges and resulting weather damage that have left the facility nonfunctional for much of the past two years.
With the new venue, residents of Henderson will finally have their own special event center appropriately sized for college and high school graduations, performances by the Henderson Symphony Orchestra and other cultural arts productions, meetings, conventions and, of course, professional hockey and sports of all kinds.
In fact, Henderson’s partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights is the very reason why redevelopment of the pavilion is possible. Through the team’s significant and matching investment of up to $42 million, our ability to reimagine the pavilion into a beautiful, well-designed, and highly functional year-round venue is reality.
The benefits of our exceptional partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights don’t stop there. Our city is now the proud hometown of the American Hockey League’s Henderson Silver Knights. The team will make its practice and administrative home at the soon-to-be completed Lifeguard Arena on Water Street, while playing games at the new Henderson Event Center upon its completion in early 2022. To say that Henderson is becoming a hockey town is an understatement.
Through our agreement with the Knights, Henderson will continue to own the Event Center, but the VGK organization will manage the facility, leveraging its relationships to secure quality acts and events, and procuring exceptional food and beverage offerings. Ultimately, private operation of the Henderson Event Center will save taxpayer dollars while significantly improving both patron and performer experience.
The newly reimagined venue, which is similar in size to the pavilion, is being carefully planned to fit seamlessly into the area. The city of Henderson design team has worked hard to develop design criteria that ensures the facility makes sense for the neighborhood.
Planned improvements include an outdoor plaza with useable open space; pedestrian and trail improvements; and improved perimeter landscapes. Access will not be impeded to other nearby community facilities in the area, and noise mitigation is no longer an issue with an enclosed design. A redesign of the surrounding area ensures adequate onsite parking. And plans to accelerate improvements to key intersections are in the works, including traffic signal timing, video monitoring and more.
Public enthusiasm and excitement for the Henderson Event Center is palpable, with more than 7,600 season ticket deposits received and seat selection already underway. A recent survey by Discovery Nevada found that more than 70 percent of Henderson residents surveyed supported the project as proposed. Those numbers speak volumes and reflect the community’s majority voice.
The Henderson Event Center, on which construction is expected to begin this fall, is expected to generate more than 1,000 jobs during construction and approximately 200 full- and part-time jobs during its ongoing operation. Immediately, the city enjoys a substantial annual savings of more than $1.6 million — the current cost of maintaining the pavilion. A recent economic impact study by Applied Analysis determined that construction of the project is anticipated to generate a one-time economic output of $142.1 million and support wages and salaries of approximately $54.7 million during construction. And that’s before factoring in the economic uplift of ongoing operations.
Just as investment in major infrastructure likes roads and highways helped our country to heal after the Great Depression, and more recently after the Great Recession, strategic investment in infrastructure projects like the Henderson Event Center will escalate economic growth and stability in a post-COVID era.
Best of all, our new Henderson Event Center is positioned to become a place of pride where our community will soon gather to cheer on the Henderson Silver Knights and attend a variety of events that create the vibrancy for which our city is known.