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April 19, 2013

MGM Details Arena-Centered Entertainment District in Vegas

By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

There’s going to be a lot of action on the stretch between MGM Resorts International’s New York-New York and Monte Carlo casino-resort properties along the Las Vegas Strip. Last month, MGM and entertainment facilities organization AEG announced plans for a 20,000-seat arena on the site and now MGM Resorts has just disclosed the specifics for what it is calling Stripside experiences and a public park highlighting the state-of-the-art arena.

Experiences? It’s not a shallow attempt to reel in gamblers. “All the revenue growth [in Las Vegas] in the past couple of years has been towards non-gaming amenities and non-gaming facilities like retail and shows, and this project is very much designed to capture that trend,” Brent Pirosch, director of gaming consulting with commercial real estate services firm Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, told Commercial Property Executive.

MGM Resorts’ new experiences will be produced through alterations to the front facades of New York-New York and Monte Carlo, which will allow for the development of an outdoor plaza linking both casino resort-hotels. Hershey’s Chocolate World flagship store will anchor the open-air experience, where commitments have also been secured in advance for a roadhouse restaurant-bar destination and a pizzeria. The global hospitality company’s goal is to create an outdoor collection of casual bars, eateries and retail destinations to encourage social interaction and people-watching.

And to further facilitate a vibrant pedestrian-friendly atmosphere, MGM Resorts will develop a park that will serve as a walking path to the indoor arena, with both the park and entertainment facility occupying 10 acres behind New York-New York and Monte Carlo.

“All great cities offer vibrant pedestrian experiences, and Las Vegas is certainly no exception, as The Strip is one of the world’s greatest boulevards,” Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts, said in a prepared statement. “Our vision is to extend the excitement we traditionally create within our world-class resorts outside onto The Strip, and ultimately in an entertainment district leading to our new arena.”

Cooper, Robertson & Partners is aboard the project as master planner and architectural and urban design firm! melk is masterminding the landscape architecture.

MGM Resorts is not alone in its pursuit of orchestrating non-gaming experiences in Sin City. Caesars Entertainment is working on The LINQ, an open-air retail, dining and entertainment district that will be anchored by the tallest observation wheel in the world.

“The Strip is very much about an experience these days, seeing things and doing things you can’t do anywhere else,” Pirosch said. “Gaming is everywhere; nobody is more than 90 minutes away by car from gaming in the continental U.S., so it doesn’t have the mystique that it once did. But there aren’t too many places in the U.S. that have things like the Forum Shops [at Caesars Palace], there aren’t 500-foot observation wheels and towers and a list of shows that you can see so it’s all very different. It’s all about the experience these days.”

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