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Las Vegas building boom putting construction workers in demand

If you are one of the thousands of construction workers who fled the Las Vegas Valley during the recession of 2008, perhaps it is time to come back, said a leading Las Vegas gaming executive.

Planned, proposed and under-construction projects in the Las Vegas Valley are estimated to be worth $15 billion, according to experts. That means there will be a great demand for qualified members of the construction trades, said Bill Noonan, senior vice president of industry and governmental Affairs for Boyd Gaming.

“Yes, it is more broad-based,” Noonan said this week on “Nevada Newsmakers,” comparing the current boom to that of before 2008. “It is not just casino expansion we are talking about. We’re talking about convention center expansions and renovations. We’re talking about a stadium (for the NFL Raiders). But we’re also talking about casino expansions and upgrades, so there is a lot going on in the local community.

“We are going to wish we had those 100,000-plus construction workers back because I think there is going to be a real boon for the needs of all kinds of construction trades to get all these projects off the ground in the next 36 to 48 months,” Noonan said.

Jeremy Aguero, a principal at Las Vegas-based Applied Analysis, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Southern Nevada will be about 10,000 construction workers short of planned projects in the pipeline.

Construction workers won’t be gambling with their future if they decide to return to Las Vegas, Noonan said.

“People can see this stuff because frankly, it is all funded,” Noonan said. “This is not pie in the sky. This stuff is going to happen.”

Growing needs

Both the Raiders stadium and convention center expansion will require thousands of workers, analysts have said.

Las Vegas also has several other existing and future major construction projects, including a Strip mega-resort, two highway projects and a manufacturing plant, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“Just the stadium and convention center alone, those are going to create a lot of construction jobs and construction jobs for ironworkers,” Noonan said. “Ironworkers were drastically impacted by the Great Recession. It has been estimated that 70 to 80 percent of ironworkers lost their jobs. There just wasn’t big high-rise projects being built and this ($15 billion in projects) is going to create a really big demand for these kind of skilled workers to come back and join our local economy.” The year 2020 will be huge for Las Vegas, Noonan said. That is the year the Raiders are expected to begin play in their new Las Vegas stadium, which is estimated to cost $1.9 billion.

“Well, 2020 is the year they hope to have it (stadium) done and with the opening of the Raiders,” Noonan said. “But the convention center, the expansion of the convention center and the new facility will be open by the CES (Consumer Electronic Show), we hope, in 2020. But then, in the next couple of years, you’re going to have renovations to the existing facility that is there today on the east side of Paradise (Drive) and that is going to be another of couple of years of construction after the expansion.”

The Raiders stadium should help many of the gaming properties in Las Vegas, Noonan said. Super Bowl festivities have grown to be a huge moneymaker in Las Vegas and Noonan sees the Raiders games in Las Vegas in a similar light.

“People will come to town as they do during Super Bowls. Even if they can’t get a ticket to the Super Bowl, they just want to be around the action,” Noonan said. “And I think it will be a little bit like that with the Raiders. While not everybody in Las Vegas is going to be a Raiders fan, they may be a fan of the team that is playing the Raiders. So will be a good thing for the community.”

NHL team, more

Also, the Las Vegas Golden Knights will begin play in October in the National Hockey League.

“It is going to draw a lot of enthusiasm,” Noonan added. “It is going to put us on an even bigger nationwide and worldwide map, having two professional sporting teams in the Las Vegas Valley. So I think at the end of the day, it will be very good for the community.”

Noonan sees an issue — the Raiders stadium will need plenty of room for game-day parking and tailgating to heighten the fans’ experience.

“Well, they are going to have to work that out,” Noonan said. “I’ve had conversations with the chairman of the (Clark) County Commission, Steve Sisolak, and Steve assures me that is going to be a priority.

“They know they need to have tailgating,” Noonan said of the Raiders. “They are going to look at ride-sharing opportunities from around the valley. There will be park-and-ride (opportunities) from various vacant lots in the valley, maybe with some as far away as a mile or two miles from the stadium.

“So they are going to have to be creative with what they do with parking,” Noonan said. “I think long term, they are probably going to have to look at some high-rise parking that goes along with the stadium because you need to make it a game-day experience and that includes tailgating and I think that is very important.”

Ray Hagar is a journalist for “Nevada Newsmakers.” More information on the public affairs broadcast program, podcast and website is available nevadanewsmakers.com

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