Opening Wednesday night is the $375 million T-Mobile Arena, a 50-50 joint venture between MGM Resorts International and AEG. Inside the 20,000-seat venue are all kinds of places to eat, drink and be merry. But not to gamble. Las Vegas is increasingly making money away from the gaming tables, and the new arena is the biggest bet yet that the non-gaming trend will continue.
"The market really needs it," said MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said of the large arena. "We turn away a lot of great acts every year, people that want to perform, but they don't have the venues."
Las Vegas-born band The Killers will open the Arena Wednesday, along with Mr. Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton. This weekend, Guns 'N' Roses reunites for the first time in over 20 years. The T-Mobile Arena will also have George Strait as an artist in residence, and upcoming events include Billy Joel, Garth Brooks, and UFC 200, where Conor McGregor will seek vengeance on Nate Diaz.
Up until now, UFC events have taken place across the street at the slightly smaller MGM Grand. Murren admits the T-Mobile Arena will not cannibalize his other properties, at least for now. "We want this to be the hometown arena for Las Vegas," he said, "and if we lose some events at MGM and Mandalay, but it's good for the town, it's good for MGM."
His partner, AEG President and CEO Dan Beckerman, agreed. "It reminds me a lot of when we went into London and build the 02 in London and thought, 'Geez, could there be more events?' And really, the new venue creates new events." AEG is one of the largest promoter and owner of sports and entertainment events.
More supply is on the way, however, as MGM is also constructing a new 5,300-seat theater right next door at the Monte Carlo, similar to the Colosseum at Caesar's Palace. Up the strip, Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson is pitching the concept of a $1.3 billion stadium to lure an NFL team. The Adelson plan requires public funding. MGM Resorts and AEG privately funded the entire T-Mobile Arena.