Sparks future looks brighter

Apr 24, 2007 6:31 AM

Not only is Sparks the hometown of Gov. Jim Gibbons but it is the site of a billion dollar development that "is going to change the face of my home town forever."

That was the view expressed by Gibbons last week when he officiated at the groundbreaking for the Legends of Sparks Marina, a $1 billion project that will have more than one million square feet of retail space, just east of Reno, Nev. The development will include specialty stores, a shopping mall, a casino resort and possibly a Triple-A baseball stadium.

Steve Graham, vice president of RED Development’s "Destination Development" team predicted the project, when finished, will attract 800,000 new tourists to the area and generate $600 million in taxable sales annually.

There will be three anchor stores on the 130 acre-site between the marina and Sparks Boulevard on the north side of I-80. They are Sheels sporting goods, T-Rex, a prehistoric adventure, and the upscale casino resort being planned by Olympia Gaming LLC.

The development is one that is similar to the Legends at Village West, a Kansas City, Kan., project that includes a stadium for the T-Bones Northern League baseball team.

One of the teams being courted, said Sparks Mayor Geno Martini, is the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Legends of Sparks Marina plans come on the heels of a development being proposed by well-known lobbyist Harvey Whittemore and Peppermill Casinos for the Lazy 8 resort along the Pyramid Highway in Spanish Springs Valley.

The Lazy 8 resort, originally opposed by the Sparks City Council that relented in the face of a lawsuit, was the subject of a suit that was brought by John Ascuaga’s Nugget Hotel/Casino and other citizens. The suit was dismissed last week by Washoe County District Judge Jerome Polaha.

That ruling, said a Lazy 8 spokesman, "was a complete vindication of our position all along."