Konami donation to kickstart new hospitality building
Plans for a new hospitality building on campus received a boost Monday when major gaming corporation Konami announced a $2.5 million donation for the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration.
The money will jumpstart the process of fundraising for the construction of Hospitality Hall, a 95,000 square foot facility with classroom, lab and social space that the university hopes will serve as a hub for UNLV hospitality students. Current plans have Hospitality Hall being built on North Field, between Lied Library and Frank and Estella Beam Hall.
The initial design and planning phase of Hospitality Hall began in 2010 with a $2.5 million donation from the Caesars Foundation. The building has already gone through the design and planning phase, but is slated to go before the state Legislature in 2015 to procure much-needed funding.
The estimated cost of the facility is $50 million, with $30 million of that expected to come from public sources. The other $20 million will come from private partnerships. According to a UNLV press release, money raised for the project will also go to renovating existing hospitality facilities in Beam Hall.
Acting UNLV President Don Snyder, a former dean of the hotel college from 2010 to 2013, lauded the gift and said a facility like Hospitality Hall would help keep UNLV “at the forefront of the industry.”
Adept at facilitating relationships between the public world and the private sector, Snyder played a key role in procuring the donation. Snyder, who has already developed a relationship with Konami during his time as hotel college dean, said he was “intimately” involved in making the donation happen.
“They’ve [Konami] been wonderful supporters of the college over the last three years, but this is a major step forward,” Snyder said.
Konami, a Japanese entertainment company based in Tokyo, has strong ties with the Las Vegas gaming industry. The corporation’s 120,000 square foot office south of McCarran International Airport counts for half of its gaming-related output. Konami is a longtime partner of the Harrah Hotel College, donating $1 million in 2010. In return, UNLV named a lab in the Stan Fulton Building after the company.
Snyder said the project would help push UNLV toward its goal of being regarded as a premier research university, otherwise known as ‘Tier-1’, a designation awarded by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.
“Every single part of the campus needs to be engaged in the Tier-1 initiative if we are going to do it, and the hotel college is a great example,” Snyder said.
He said that when he first became dean of the hotel college, he felt the existing facilities were not up to standard. Snyder said that Hospitality Hall, at its core, will be academic in nature, but will be “exciting” from a student point-of-view and feature cutting-edge lab and classroom space.
“If it’s not current with what’s going on in the industry, it probably doesn’t speak well to the student experience,” Snyder said.
Current hotel college dean Stowe Shoemaker echoed Snyder’s comments in a statement to UNLV public relations officers on Monday, calling the planned facility “state of the art.”
“[It’s a] great example of connecting the university with the industry that is so important to our economy,” Snyder said.
Previous plans for Hospitality Hall plotted the facility adjacent to Stan Fulton Building on the north edge of campus by Flamingo Road. But administrators at the time, including Snyder as hotel college dean, shifted the plans to focus on an academic building near the heart of campus.
Plans for Hospitality Hall date back to more than a decade ago, according to UNLV’s media relations department. The building concept received support from the Legislature in 2009, but was overlooked in 2011 in the fallout of the Great Recession.
The timeline for construction of Hospitality Hall is still relatively uncertain, but unofficial estimates put the completion of the project at late 2017.
North Field, which the facility is currently slated to replace, is already the site of UNLV’s annual popular ‘Premier’ celebration.