Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort announces $1 billion, 10-year expansion plan

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Nevada’s Grand Sierra Resort (GSR) announced on Wednesday a $1 billion, 10-year expansion plan, under which the University of Nevada’s basketball team could have a new off-campus home by 2026, according to the resort officials and Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve.

The expansion plans for the 140-acre property include a new 10,000-seat sports, concert, and special event arena, as well as 300 “affordable” riverfront residential units to help address workforce housing shortages, a golf center, and Las Vegas-like water shows in addition to other upgrades, the company said. Moreover, a new 800-room hotel tower may also be included depending on economic conditions and whether the company thinks it will be merited. 

The vision is to transform GSR into a destination where community, sports, and entertainment come together,” resort owner Alex Mereulo, who also is the majority owner of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes, said as reported by the Associated Press.

Mereulo and the University of Nevada President Brian Sandoval confirmed they’ve been exploring a partnership for some time between the resort and the basketball team, “which could make the arena their home beginning with the fall 2026 season.” They further said no public money will be involved in the financing. 

According to Mereulo, the investment would be “at least $1 billion,” will officials said would be the biggest in the city’s history. The new arena would cover approximately 300,000 square feet, including suites and premium hospitality clubs. A rendering of the arena indicated it would be built in the parking lot of the existing hotel-casino.

Sandoval said the school is “excited to explore the opportunity to partner with Alex Mereulo and Grand Sierra Resort as they develop a state-of-the-art arena and entertainment district that is unprecedented in Northern Nevada.”

Nevada Athletic Director Stephanie Rempe said a lot of work already has been put into examining the partnership and one of the next steps will be to brief the state Board of Regents, which would have to sign off on any final agreement. But she said she’s confident the deal will come together, as reported by the above-mentioned media.

The Mayor said the historic investment would be a “true game changer for our community, a massive win for our citizens, a win for the University of Nevada, and a win for tourism.”

The investment would be the biggest in a Reno casino property since the Silver Legacy, at an estimated cost of $230 million, opened in 1995. A shopping mall project that’s partly opened and remains in the works has an estimated price tag of $600 million.

The 2,000-room resort, located along Interstate 80 a couple miles from the main downtown casino drag, boasted the largest casino floor in North America when it opened as the MGM in 1978. It later flew under the banners of Bally’s and the Reno Hilton. It’s been the Grand Sierra Resort since 2006, and under the control of Mereulo’s current ownership group since 2011.

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