From biotech and banking to education and healthcare, business is booming in Henderson. Of all the industries and sectors that have influenced the city’s resurgence, sports could be one of the most influential, yet most under-appreciated, factors critical to the city – and region’s – success.
One would be hard-pressed to find an aspect of Henderson that hasn’t been positively touched by professional and amateur sports, and this impact can be felt in its culture, business community, local government, and daily lives of its residents.
FROM THE PUCK TO THE PIGSKIN
The success of the Vegas Golden Knights – the state’s first NHL team – quelled any doubts regarding the Las Vegas Valley’s ability to support a professional squad in the Silver State. And support them they have – in the 2018 season, attendance reached 103 percent of capacity, averaging nearly 18,000 fans and selling more than 500 standing-room tickets per game. Last season’s total ticket revenue was estimated to have generated $42.6 million.
The team’s stellar ticket sales have directly translated to success on the ice, with the Golden Knights winning their division and becoming the first NHL expansion team to make the playoffs in its inaugural year. The team’s exposure has also benefited from the support of local celebrities – members of the band Imagine Dragons, baseball star Bryce Harper, and comedian Carrot Top have been spotted catching the action on the ice.
The Golden Knights aren’t the only pros in town. In one of the most talked-about franchise moves in NFL history, the Raiders will soon be calling the Las Vegas Valley home, making the Silver & Black the region’s second professional sports team. The future 65,000-seat, $1.8 billion indoor stadium will be built using $750 million of public money authorized by the Nevada Legislature. While some have questioned the project’s long-term economic feasibility, leading urban growth researchers believe the stadium will effectively boost the region’s tourism economy by attracting major special events.
While the ROI of the Raider’s stadium won’t be known for years to come, the impact of the team’s practice facility and headquarters on Henderson – both which will be built within the city’s limits – will be significant, resulting in approximately 250 new jobs, an investment of $75 million in the land used by the Raiders, and roughly $14 million in property taxes to be invested in public safety and education over a 30-year period. The headquarters will feature a state-of-the-art training center, five practice fields, space for the Raiders’ front office, a pool and seating for fans.
With a dedicated fan base, strong economy, and multi-use stadium in the works, former Governor Brian Sandoval and his team, recognizing the need for an organization to prepare bids for major events in the Las Vegas Valley, formed the Southern Nevada Sporting Event Committee by executive order last year. In addition to identifying potential sporting events and associated activities, the committee will also explore the need for the Legislature to establish a permanent sports commission. Goals for the stadium have been set high, with aspirations such as landing the Super Bowl, NFL Draft, or NCAA football bowl games.
A PARADISE FOR PLAYERS
If the Raiders’ headquarters could be called the brain of sports in Henderson, Lake Las Vegas could arguably be called the heart. Designed on and around an artificial 320-acre lake, the scope of which has been compared to the Hoover Dam, this secluded and mountain-lined Shangri-La is any sports enthusiast’s dream destination, boasting an unimaginable variety of facilities, fields, courses, and programs for hundreds of activities.
Just this year, Lake Las Vegas opened its world-class Golf Academy, offering lessons from former PGA professionals Craig Barlow and Jeff Gallagher. The academy regularly works with golfers from around the world, recently hosting South Korean men’s and women’s professional teams to train at their facilities.
Reflection Bay Golf Club Manager Eric Dutt, who has been in the Las Vegas Valley since 1964, has witnessed golf’s tumultuous trajectory in the area firsthand. “From 1995 to 2008, Lake Las Vegas was flying, from a golf perspective,” said Dutt. However, real estate challenges hit the resort soon after, resulting in the closing of a number of courses.
Fortunately, that downturn feels like ancient history. In 2014, with the help of investors and the local government, Reflection Bay was renovated and reopened. “Golf was a big part of the renovation of Reflection Bay and Henderson,” reflected Dutt. Since the resurgence of golf, Henderson boasts a total of 13 public, semi-private and private courses, including several signature links, many of which are rated in the top-100 in the country.
With McCarran International Airport minutes away, access to hotels, and Southern Nevada’s mild year-round weather, Dutt hopes to establish Henderson as a golf destination unto itself, but understands that there is still work to be done. “Part of the challenge with golf in Southern Nevada is that it’s not a traditional golf destination,” said Dutt. “We’re trying to flip the perception that Southern Nevada is an entertainment destination that happens to have some good golf courses.”
Craig Barlow, a Henderson-born PGA golfer who played a total of five U.S. Opens and ranked as high as #83 in the Official World Rankings, has witnessed firsthand how golf has undergone a total transformation in the Las Vegas Valley.
“When I was a kid, Henderson only had one golf course,” Barlow chuckled. Although impressed by the sport’s rocketing popularity in Henderson, Barlow isn’t exactly surprised. “Here, we get to play golf year-round, even in the winter. Henderson also has the infrastructure and tax breaks that a lot of other cities don’t have, which is attractive to athletes who want to visit and move here.”
Adding even more incentives for golfers to hit the greens in Henderson, The Falls Golf Club – one of Lake Las Vegas’s signature golf courses – is in the process of building a 30,000-square-foot deck, driving range, and hitting bay. “When people think of golfing in Southern Nevada, I want them to think of Lake Las Vegas,” said Barlow.
IF YOU BUILD IT THEY WILL COME
Yet another way the Raider’s presence has positively affected Henderson’s economy is through increased development of commercial, retail and industrial space. Spearheaded by Stable Development, a new 12.5 acre, 300,000-square-foot project will feature two 7-story towers of medical and professional offices overlooking the Raiders new training facility. Developments such as these are expected to attract similar projects, encouraging high-quality development and an increase in tourism in Henderson.
With the expansion of golf courses have come upscale communities and the high-income residents who live there, many of whom are professional or amateur athletes. Spanning from 166 to 2,535 acres and from 864 to 15,350 units – and with some home to more than 30,000 residents – Henderson’s 14 master-planned developments offer a range of amenities, facilities and spaces for healthy living.
Just beneath the mountains of the McCullough Range, Ascaya Custom Home Community is ideal for active lifestyles, providing easy access to some of the best trails in the Henderson area. Residents of the master-planned community also enjoy proximity to recreational areas, golf courses, open grass areas, playgrounds, dog parks, skate parks, splash pads and lighted courts.
Home to more than 450 acres of open space, parks, and trails, Cadence is another community which celebrates fitness. It’s 50-acre Central Park features pickleball courts, play areas for children, and a six-lane lap pool. From cyclists and dog lovers to families and equestrians, Cadence has the perfect trail or open space for residents to get away or play. Not to be outdone, residential development Inspirada promotes healthy living with its 85 acres of parks, trails and open space in addition to wellness and yoga classes.
In Henderson, the access to sports equipment and facilities is a top priority, even for those who don’t live within one of its master-planned communities. The city, for example, boasts more parks and recreation facilities per capita than any other community in the region while its award-winning parks and recreation program provides residents with life-enriching classes, workshops, and events. The city has 69 parks covering more than 1,306 acres, including 105 athletic fields, 64 tennis courts, 10 swimming pools and 180 miles of trails within the city.
KEEPING ATHLETES IN THE GAME
With thousands of athletes swinging, tackling, shooting, skating, running and cycling in and around Henderson on any given day – injuries are inevitable. Thanks to the highly-trained specialists at Henderson Hospital and Dignity Health, injured athletes can rest assured that they are in the hands of the best medical professionals in Southern Nevada.
The sports medicine program at Henderson Hospital prioritizes the full recovery of its patients, enabling them to return to the sport of their choice within the fastest time frame possible. Henderson Hospital specializes in comprehensive care in the fields of orthopedics and neurology, allowing them to expertly address trauma involving the musculoskeletal system resulting from common sports injuries affecting ligaments, cartilage, tendons, and joints.
Dignity Health’s sports medicine focuses on the nonsurgical treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of sports-related injuries, helping athletes or teams improve athletic performance and avoid injuries while participating in exercise or sports. The specialists at Dignity Health are known for treating muscle and tendon strains, broken or fractured bones, back pain, and a number of other sports-related injuries.
Thanks to its professional franchises, residential communities, parks, hospitals, developments, and golf courses, Henderson – and the greater Las Vegas Valley – is attracting people who are as serious about active lifestyles as they are about successful businesses. The city has responded by investing in the facilities and spaces that professional athletes and weekend warriors need to engage in the sports and activities they love, elevating Henderson’s reputation as a place where both people and businesses play to win.
This article ‘How Sports Have Played into Henderson’s Atmospheric Rise’ written Bywas originally published on NevadaBusiness.com on April 1, 2019.