There’s a reason Las Vegas’ first freestanding arena fits right in just off the Strip. The 650,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art structure was designed to blend in seamlessly with the desert on one side and with the Strip on the other. Plus the T-Mobile magenta is kept at bay until you’re inside (at least during the day).
With a 200-foot-wide video mesh wall and telescopic seats to customize sightlines, the $375M T-Mobile Arena incorporates some groundbreaking technology. The new venue seats up to 20,000 and will host concerts, awards shows and sporting events, including a just-announced NHL expansion team.
Levy Restaurants, the group behind 36 arenas and 15 entertainment venues around the country, combines the top features of its event spaces here, then makes them Vegas-sized. Hyde Lounge has locations in LA’s Staples Center and Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena, so Vegas went with an 18,000-square-foot version spanning the entire back end and overlooking the action. Catering to VIPs, T-Mobile Arena has 550 club seats with membership benefits, 44 luxury boxes and eight fully-furnished event-level suites.
By RICHARD N. VELOTTA LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
April 3, 2016
Las Vegas for years was long on promises for new arenas and short on projects. Until the plan for the new T-Mobile Arena bore fruit, Southern Nevadans needed a scorecard to keep up with the comings and goings of proposals.
The Caesars Entertainment-Anschutz Entertainment Group arena proposal east of Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas.
The Silver State Arena at the site formerly occupied by the old Wet ‘n’ Wild water park on the Strip.
The Las Vegas National Sports Center complex, which included a football stadium, a baseball park and an arena in downtown Las Vegas.
Former University of Nevada, Las Vegas basketball star Jackie Robinson’s retractable-roof arena at the old Wet ‘n’ Wild site.
That list doesn’t even count the much larger stadium proposals that have come and gone and come again.
Only T-Mobile Arena has blossomed. The 20,000-seat, $375 million, privately funded venue opens April 6.
It was planned and built by MGM Resorts International and Los Angeles-based AEG, the company that developed the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
"This is a vision we started about seven years ago," MGM President Bill Hornbuckle said. "The MGM Grand Garden has been wonderful, and when we started talking about big-scale events, the community needed and wanted something exciting and new. From the company’s perspective and the community’s perspective, we knew it was something we wanted to participate in."
The joint-venture partners squeezed the state-of-the-art facility onto a 14.5-acre Strip site west of New York-New York and Monte Carlo. Three other arenas are less than 2 miles away.
Although the T-Mobile Arena has yet to open, the facility already is being hailed as a success; 77 big-time entertainment and sports events are booked. MGM officials figured they needed to add 100 new events to keep the MGM Grand Garden, the Mandalay Bay Arena and T-Mobile viable.
And the names are huge: Guns N’ Roses, Billy Joel, Garth Brooks, Janet Jackson, George Strait and Ultimate FIghting Championship 200. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas Runnin’ Rebels will have a long-awaited college basketball rematch with Duke University in December.
Along with big names come enormous production values. T-Mobile has the same number of seats as Staples Center but with 30 percent less square footage. That means patrons will be on top of the action with excellent sight lines. Hornbuckle says there isn’t a bad seat in the house. And that doesn’t even consider the video projected to a four-sided, two-story high-resolution video board suspended above the arena floor. The quality of the experience is expected to command top box-office dollars.
MGM Chairman, President and CEO Jim Murren recently tantalized members of the state Gaming Control Board and the Nevada Gaming Commission with descriptions of the arena when he addressed them on a corporate restructuring. Regulators were much more interested hearing about the new venue than the company’s formation of a real estate investment trust.
Hornbuckle said the partnership decided to position the arena as a community venue. That’s why the naming rights were acquired by T-Mobile and the MGM and AEG marks are absent from the building’s interior.
The community has reacted favorably. All 42 luxury boxes have been subscribed and other casino companies have agreed to sponsor future events in the venue — not that MGM and AEG couldn’t have done it themselves.
"It’s a great joint venture for the community in that you’ve got one of the world’s largest concert venue operators and concert promoters, and ourselves with a long and esteemed history in Las Vegas promoting events, coming together to activate this thing," Hornbuckle said.
And all that doesn’t even count the potential to house a National Hockey League team, which could add at least 40 new dates to the calendar.
"To us," Hornbuckle said, "getting hockey would be icing on the cake."
The potential addition of more than 100 events is music to the ears of leaders of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
With a self-described mission of "putting heads in beds" every night, the authority sees the addition of new high-end dates as a draw that will likely raise occupancy rates. Greater demand means higher room rates.
There are 80,000 hotel rooms within a mile of T-Mobile Arena. Although most of them belong to MGM, company executives see the opening of the T-Mobile Arena as a catalyst for growth valleywide and for all Las Vegas resort companies.
June 23, 2016 - Sports Illustrated.com
By Tim Newcomb
Las Vegas wants an NHL team and it finally has a home that can welcome the league to town in full Vegas style.
Now open on the Strip, the 20,00-seat T-Mobile Arena is the desert city’s first full-size downtown arena, a venue that embodies the spirit of the nightlife-led environment for which Vegas is famous. Sporting a desert-inspired design and hockey-centric seating bowl, it is the first major arena or stadium that will have a well-known mixologist running its beverage program.
With the variety of concerts and events the city ordinarily draws, building a full-scale arena in Las Vegas is part of a plan to do more than just lure an NHL expansion team to town. But whether it's hockey or shows, the joint venture by MGM Resorts and the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG owns of dozens of arenas, stadiums and theaters worldwide, including LA Live and Staples Center, home to the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings) is meant to mesh within the bustle of the Strip. At 655,000 square feet, T-Mobile Arena stands out near the Monte Carlo and New York New York resorts, a new park environment, restaurants and a public space. The arena even has an exterior stage projecting off the front of the building in order to bring entertainment outside.
"It was critical to us that it be integrated into the city," MGM Resorts president Bill Hornbuckle tells SI.com. "It ended up right in the heart of the resorts we own and operate, but you don’t fall out into a hotel resort environment. That opens up additional opportunities and paves the way for the NHL, NBA and potentially other sports. It was meant to be for the city."
The sports architecture firm Populous gave the building a true Vegas-style look, with one side featuring natural desert-inspired materials and the other, the side facing the Strip, boasting an oversized video wall for advertising the arena's events.
Knowing that the Strip can be an overwhelming experience, AEG's CEO Dan Beckerman says the design needed to provide a striking view to break through the glitz. "The architecture is pretty stunning when you look at how it incorporates the natural surroundings and the desert motif and still embraces the light and life of the Strip."
Desert ambiance also inspired the interior design that makes visitors feel like they are going from the depths of a cave and through a canyon to the top of the mountain all in the same building. Without a major corporate market to back a massive level of suites, T-Mobile instead has a bowl for the 20,000 seats and 50 total suites including eight event-level bunkers and only one level of suites higher up. "The upper concourse and relationship to the main bowl is very tight," says Hornbuckle. "You are literally right on the action. Whether hockey or basketball, is it much closer than any other arena."
"T-Mobile has club offerings like no other building," Beckerman says. "It is because of Las Vegas that we have designed and created it that way."
The Hyde Lounge, a nightclub-inspired space, is an 18,000-square-foot club with two triangle platforms that extend over the crowd below for unique views. Two turret-like structures rise high into the arena to create tower clubs that overlook the bowl and cater to the "distinctive nightlife of Las Vegas." Terrace tables, loge boxes and opera boxes offer a diverse premium-seating program designed to appeal to a spectrum of desires. "We thought the club environment was important," says Hornbuckle.
T-Mobile caters to the VIP crowd with its premium seating options and two special entrances where folks can exit their cars, walk 85 feet into a bunker suite and then another 12 feet to their seats. Concessionaire Levy Restaurants has brought in famed Bellagio mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim to create an arena-wide beverage program. "Nobody has really embraced the resurgence of craft cocktails to implement such a hand-crafted program into an arena," Abou-Ganim says. "I am thrilled."
Abou-Ganim's his goal was to create consistency throughout the arena, whether in a T-Mobile margarita—he's especially excited for the Patron, fresh lime, fresh lemon, agave nectar variety—or any other mixed drink that will be served by the more than 50 bartenders. With a venue this size in a location such as Las Vegas, a signature drink was a must. It will be served everywhere in the arena and with a magenta color to match the T-Mobile sponsorship.
"That is not the easiest color to come up with," he says. "That was another challenge and I love those types of challenges." So Abou-Ganim created the Atomic Fizz with citrus vodka, agave nectar, freshly squeezed lemon juice, orange-rhubarb, fresh prickly pear puree and seltzer water.
Even the beverage program is tied to the dream of housing hockey. Abou-Ganim put a focus on ice, working with a local company to develop different shapes and cuts for the cubes. "Ice is a big undertaking and focus for us," he says. "With the hope of a NHL team, we put a focus on ice."
There's plenty more on offer. "We are ripe and ready for a team full on," Hornbuckle says. The lockerrooms have NHL standard amenities and T-Mobile also has space for basketball, if the NBA ever comes calling. "We have separate zones for the NHL, the NBA and concert star green rooms. It was space and money, but we built it out and we are ready to go for the NHL and entertainers."
Even if the NHL doesn't arrive with a new team anytime soon, T-Mobile will host the Kings each year in the city's popular preseason exhibition game. This year, they will play in T-Mobile twice.
"It is a date Kings fans mark on their calendars every year," Beckerman says. "We are obviously big believers in the market and that is evident from the project. We think the arena would be perfect for hockey. We are very impressed by the season ticket campaign. We are supportive of (NHL expansion to Las Vegas under Bill Foley) and think the team would be successful there."
The new arena has Las Vegas off to an impressive start.
Tim Newcomb covers sports aesthetics—stadiums, sneakers and more—for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb
Populous News Release
CHALLENGE. T-Mobile Arena – an AEG and MGM Resorts International joint venture, tells a cohesive story about Las Vegas and its contrasting influences through a dynamic design. With the desert and Spring Mountains directly to the west, and the pulsating Las Vegas Boulevard to the east, the arena design captures these juxtaposing facets and melds them into an authentic expression of the city's drama and excitement while showcasing the spectacular surrounding landscape.
INNOVATION. To capture the excitement of The Strip, the design includes an expansive glass façade with an LED overlay; sweeping, dramatic balconies along Park Avenue (formerly Rue de Monte Carlo); an outdoor performance stage and a sleek exterior that is as bold as it is sophisticated, creating an iconic focal point amongst the city's bustling entertainment market. Desert and mountain influences are expressed in the south and west facades of the arena – a solid skin that protects against the intense desert sun. This "of the desert" skin wraps the arena's elliptical form with undulating bands of metal that evoke the color and sedimentary layering of the desert mountains.
Interior spaces within replicate the sedimentary layering visible on the exterior, with the lowest level premium spaces and concourse inspired by the strata of the mountains and premium spaces in the upper levels reflecting the oranges, blues and purples of Las Vegas' dusk sky. The arena also makes use of a new arrangement of the seating bowl, to allow for maximum seating capacity when set up for concerts. Two dramatic sponsor towers provide unique vantage points and showcase the glamour, energy and ‘see and be seen' nature of the city, creating a premium experience that will be a bold statement for Las Vegas.
IMPACT. Populous' design for AEG & MGM Resorts' new arena creates a monumental impact on the entertainment landscape of Las Vegas' bustling Strip, providing the city with a first class arena capable of hosting everything from awards shows to concerts to NBA and NHL games. It provides an elegant design and an impetus for a new kind of arena that thinks beyond traditional premium spaces and seating bowl configurations to pave the way for a new kind of sports and entertainment experience.