ANCHORAGE — State lawmakers are weighing whether to spend millions of dollars to create an Alaska tourist attraction on the Las Vegas strip.
The “Alaska Adventure Center” would promote the state to 31 million people who visit the Nevada destination each year, Anchorage businessman Perry Green told the House special committee on economic development, trade and tourism.
Green got a warm reception when he pitched the idea to lawmakers, the Anchorage Daily News reported Tuesday. The facility would include nightly live shows, restaurants and shops selling Alaska gold nuggets and Native handicraft, but no gambling.
Project promoters are seeking an initial $4 million from the state for the design phase and expect to come back to the Legislature next year with another request for money to make the project happen.
“We will work with you on this project,” Rep. Bob Herron, the committee chairman, told Green.
Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan and others back the idea, and the project’s board of directors includes prominent business people.
Gov. Sean Parnell hasn’t taken a position, his spokeswoman said. Alaska tourism organizations haven’t publicly expressed a position on the idea, the Daily News reported.
Tourism in Alaska needs help, said Bob Coe, who used to run duty-free operations at the Anchorage and is developing the project from California.
“I can conclude we’re in trouble and we need a strategy, an aggressive strategy,” he said.
The Las Vegas facility would need to be big and loud to compete with other attractions on the strip, Coe said. It would include a 300-seat theater and six different “vacation planning zones” that feature wilderness adventures and sales teams persuading visitors to buy vacation packages.
A design study is needed to determine how much building space is needed, the cost of construction and property leasing, and what exactly the center would include, Coe said.
The state must take the lead in paying for it, he said, but the plan is to get tourism interests and local visitors bureaus to sponsor the project or pay marketing fees in return for exposure in the facility
“It can’t be done on the cheap,” he told lawmakers. “If it’s going to work, you’ve got to go guns blazing.”
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