By JASON ROSSMANI/Associated PressCLEVELAND (AP) When Stephen Harper was prime minister, the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, needed more than a convention center.
It needed a convention hall, hotel, convention center and convention center extension.
So the Harper administration set out to do just that.
It spent $1.2 billion to buy a land parcel in the western desert, known as the Valley of the Sun, to house a $1 billion convention center that was planned to open in 2019.
In December, a state-appointed panel approved the plan, paving the way for the construction of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The project is now nearly two years behind schedule.
But even with a delay in completion, construction on the convention center is proceeding.
The Las Vegas-based Convention & Entertainment Management Corp. has been working with contractors to make the complex more efficient and safe, said David Hickey, a vice president at CEGM, which operates more than 300 hotels in about 50 states.
The site where the convention hall would be built, near the city’s downtown, is on land that was previously the site of a cattle ranch.
Hickey said CEGMC was still reviewing whether it was feasible to buy land elsewhere.
Las Vegas has about 8,700 hotel rooms and about 300 restaurants.
The valley is home to many of the country’s best golf courses and the city also has the largest casino in the United States, MGM Grand.
It has about 2 million people and about 200 casinos, according to CEGMs website.
The convention center project, which would have cost $10 billion to build, has been a headache for Las Vegas officials.
They have been trying to sell land to developers on land owned by the city for a half-century, said Michael Johnson, executive director of the Downtown Las Vegas Partnership.
Johnson said the convention site is located in a high-risk area, with many people who live in the area not being able to get into the city from out of state.
Johnson said there were no guarantees the land would be sold and that some people might lose jobs if the site is not sold.
But CEGms project was designed to avoid such a scenario, Johnson said.
It is a large site and it is a very large site, he said.
The developers have been looking to move forward, Johnson told The Associated Press.
That means getting approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission and state regulators.
Johnson and CEGm officials have been working to negotiate a deal that could include incentives, like tax breaks, the site could be used for another convention center, and that all the parties would have to agree.
The company has received $1 million in federal grants, Johnson wrote on the website for the Downtown Los Angeles Partnership.
The group is working to secure an exemption from a state law that requires hotels to be at least 50 percent leased to a hotel, Johnson and others said.
The company, which has been in the hotel industry for decades, had been hoping to get an exemption, Johnson added.
Las Angeles has more than 1,100 hotels.