T-Mobile Arena may soon have company on the Strip. Mass excavation for a $5 billion project that includes a 22,000-seat arena at the north end of the Strip could start as early as April, a member of the prospective ownership group said Thursday after a meeting of the principals and investors at Park Tower.

Backers of the project, which would be completed in late 2019, believe they have an advantage in landing an NBA franchise because it would be a non-gaming property.

Jim Murren, MGM Resorts International CEO, told the Review-Journal in October that he is actively pursuing an NBA team for T-Mobile Arena.

The arena, a joint venture between MGM Resorts and entertainment giant AEG, opened in April between New York-New York and Monte Carlo.

The rival arena is planned for the 27 acres between Carl Icahn’s unfinished Fountainebleau and SLS. Former Sahara owners Paul and Sue Lowden have owned the site for decades. The land has been vacant since Wet n’ Wild water park closed in 2004 after nearly 20 years.

Former UNLV basketball star Jackie Robinson has been the point man for the new arena for nearly a decade.

The source said Robinson recently acquired the main financial backing from Boston Asia Capital, which stepped in when the original Chinese backing was “too slow, too hard.”

In 2010 Texas developer Chris Milam was working with the Lowdens on a $750 million, 20,000-seat arena. When that unraveled, he attempted to put together a sports stadium deal in Henderson, but legal issues derailed that plan.

The source said the principals at Thursday night’s presentation included the Las Vegas-based Cuningham Group. “They will be the architects,” said the source.

The project would include a Marriott property and an ambitious underground piece.

UncategorizedNorm Clarke