The new Las Vegas arena built by MGM and AEG with private money (!) opened last night with a Killers/Wayne Newton concert (!!), giving the city three full-sized arenas and no sports teams to play in them. That’s understandably raised concerns of arena glut, something that MGM execs acknowledged but then attempted to hand-wave away because grow the pie:
“Our goal is to get to 100 events at T-Mobile and have no impact on our other buildings,” said Rick Arpin, the company’s senior vice president of entertainment.
That won’t happen right away.
Bookings could drop as much as 20 percent at MGM Grand Garden and Mandalay Bay Events Center in T-Mobile Arena’s first year, Arpin said. The market will “right-size” in the next 12 months, though, as T-Mobile creates events that wouldn’t have existed or come to the market without it, he said.
That includes the long-awaited reunion of rock band Guns N’ Roses, which is christening the arena on its debut weekend with opening act Alice in Chains.
It also includes the residency of country superstar George Strait, who’ll headline the arena with dates in April, September, December and February.
“His engagement wasn’t going to happen without this building. He didn’t have to tour. He was compelled by this proposition,” Arpin said. “You’re going to see more of that.”
Beyond the crazy notion that Guns N’ Roses is reuniting just because Las Vegas built a third arena, let’s take this seriously for a moment: Is it possible that 50% more concerts will come to Las Vegas now that it has 50% more arenas? It’s not like the MGM Grand Garden and Thomas & Mack Center were both so booked to the gills that touring acts couldn’t find a way to play Vegas. Some artists on tour who were going to skip Vegas might be attracted by the lure of a newer venue, maybe, but that many?
We’ll just have to wait and see, I guess. Since MGM is paying for this new building — and owns one of the other arenas in town to boot — it’s not like it’s any skin off our taxpaying noses if it turns out to be a terrible idea. It could have important implications for Sheldon Adelson’s claims that a new heavily subsidized Las Vegas stadium will bring in tons more events, though, as well as an interesting test case for other cities thinking of papering their entire cities with wall-to-wall sports/entertainment venues. Stay tuned.