Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has a vision for a new arena inspired by one word: Vegas. Cuban sees it as a centerpiece of Dallas’s first destination resort casino.
Bringing Vegas-style destination to Big D
Cuban’s emphasis on creating a destination status for Dallas echoes legislation filed by Sen. Carol Alvarado that would legalize casino gambling in Texas. Alvarado stressed the need to create “an entertainment opportunity that sets Texas apart from its neighbors” in a July interview with PlayTexas.
Cuban voiced the same perspective with a question to the Dallas Morning News:
“For anyone who lives outside of Texas, what’s the one place they plan to visit in Texas?”
Clearly, Texas has some significant historical landmarks and beautiful natural landscapes. But Cuban’s vision identifies a new form of tourism that Texas doesn’t offer: a destination resort.
Talking with the Dallas Morning News, Cuban seemed fixated on the potential of bringing Las Vegas’s recent pro sports successes to Dallas. In specific, the way Vegas has successfully folded T-Mobile arena (home of the Vegas Golden Knights) and Allegiant Stadium (home of the Las Vegas Raiders) into the thriving resort casino industry.
“There’s a reason why Vegas is Vegas. And it’s not just gambling. There’s gambling in a lot of places. It’s the fact there’s resorts for families, for bachelorette and bachelor parties, for conventions. If you create a new arena, whether it’s for us, for us and the Stars or whatever it may be, and you make that a centerpiece? How cool would that be?”
A Dallas resort would require a $2 billion investment
Based on stipulations in Alvarado’s current casino legislation, a new resort casino in Dallas would require investors to make an initial land and/or capital investment of “$2 billion for a destination resort located in a metropolitan area with an estimated population of five million or more on July 1, 2021.” More than seven million people currently live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Building a pro sports arena into a new casino is one way to reach the $2 billion threshold. In 2001, the American Airlines Center, current home of the Mavs and Dallas Stars, cost $480 million. At the time, it was the largest arena (by square footage) in the country. Funding came through rental car and hotel taxes and the teams’ ownership groups.
In Alvarado’s legislation, the full $2 billion would need to come from investors and not any public subsidies. The Stars and Mavericks have a lease with the arena through 2031, at which point both teams would have to decide to renew the lease and possibly renovate, or build something new.
Cuban stated at the start of the 2021 NBA season that he was 50/50 on building a new stadium. If casino legislation is passed in the upcoming legislative session, Cuban sounds likely to go from a toss-up to all-in on a new arena.
For his part. Brad Albert, owner of the Dallas Stars, has said he’s happy to stay and renovate the AAC. He has yet to weigh in on the prospect of a new arena within a new Dallas casino resort. However, he has shown support for expanding legal gambling in Texas.
The earliest a Texas casino could break ground would be 2024
If the Texas Legislature breaks with tradition and legislation like Alvarado’s passes both houses and receives the governor’s signature; it would be voted on in November 2023.
That would put 2024 as the earliest start date for new casino construction.
In this scenario, Cuban has already made his plans to partner with Vegas Sands clear. The company whose PAC, the Vegas Sands PAC, has donated millions of dollars to Texas politicians in the last legislative cycle, would become the main casino partner in North Texas.
Sands, which is based out of Las Vegas, currently owns properties in Singapore and Macao. If legislation passes in 2023, Texas could be their first foray back into the North American market since selling the Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas amid the pandemic.
Cuban has always championed Dallas when keeping the Mavs’ facilities in the city instead of the outlying suburbs. He’s also optimistic that “there’s plenty of places” to build a resort casino in the city proper. Does that include Victory Park, the current location of the AAC?
Cuban hasn’t offered any specifics on these locations, but chances are that if he is involved in a new casino resort, he will continue to celebrate the city that made him his fortune.