Updated 

No huge traffic jam is anticipated for MGM arena that’s being built


Well, it’s official.

Southern Nevada appears to be getting a 20,000-seat arena on the Strip, courtesy of MGM Resorts International and entertainment venue powerhouse AEG.

Ground was broken last week on the $375 million project that is expected to be completed by early 2016.

After months of back and forth over whether Las Vegans would ever see an arena project of any kind, the conversation abruptly turned to, “What kind of a traffic and parking nightmare did MGM just hand us?”

The short answer, according to the company, is none.

Arenas by their very nature are traffic generators that require substantial parking resources. And MGM already has them in the form of its resort parking garages.

“We’re the last people who would tolerate a traffic nightmare,” said Gordon Absher, vice president of public affairs for the company. “Take a look at who the arena’s most immediate neighbors will be. It’s going to literally be steps away from some of the biggest hotels in the world — owned by us.”

Absher’s point is that most of the people who will be using the arena will be tourists, not locals. Most of them already will be in Las Vegas and will be close enough to the facility to walk there.

For locals attending an event at the arena, there will need to be a paradigm shift in how we experience entertainment at the venue.

In sports and entertainment venues nationwide, fans make a day or a night of their experience. They go early to enjoy a meal before a game or concert or plan something after the event. They use public transportation. They walk.

When MGM opens the new venue, whether it’s for a playoff game between the Las Vegas Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers or the keynote speech of the Republican National Convention or the Justin Bieber Farewell Tour concert, some attendees will park at the garages at the Monte Carlo or New York-New York. Some might park at CityCenter or the MGM Grand.

The people movers at CityCenter and fronting three MGM properties south of Tropicana Avenue will enable people to park at Bellagio, Excalibur, Luxor and Mandalay Bay and ride most of the way to the stadium.

If the event is big enough, people could park at the Las Vegas Convention Center and take the Las Vegas Monorail to the MGM Grand and then walk.

Is it going to be different than parking at the Thomas &Mack Center and walking from a parking lot? Sure. But that’s how people are attending big events at other cities and that’s what we’ll need to learn how to do.

“For locals attending events, they’ll come up with their favorite places to park to get in and out of the area with ease,” Absher predicted.

As for those wondering if there’s going to be a direct exit onto Interstate 15 from Frank Sinatra Drive, forget it. That’s not in the cards.

A NEW FRONTIER

Denver-based Frontier Airlines doesn’t have a big presence at McCarran International Airport. With 39 round trips a week, all to and from Denver International Airport, Frontier ranks 11th among 14 domestic air carriers serving Las Vegas by capacity.

But last week, Frontier took a monumental philosophical turn and joined the ranks of Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air as an ultra-low-cost carrier that offers a low base fare and unbundled a la carte fees.

Unlike Spirit and Allegiant, Frontier will offer the low unbundled price as an “Economy” fare and a refundable ticket under the old rules as “Classic Plus.”

For a Frontier passenger flying round trip to Denver, that means a ticket costing as low as $124 round trip, plus fees for any additional services added.

The most common fee is to check bags, which ranges from $25 to $50, depending on whether the bag is tagged during the initial ticket purchase or at the gate.

Frontier promises the first carry-on piece is free, but a second one ranges in cost from $25 to $100.

Fee discounts are available by joining the airline’s EarlyReturns loyalty club, with free enrollment through June 30, 2015.

I did a quick comparison check of an Economy fare against Classic Plus for a May 15 departure and a May 19 return from Las Vegas to Denver and found the $124 round trip. On the same flights, using the Classic Plus model, it cost $264 for a round trip, but included one free checked bag, a drink on the plane, a seat in the section of the plane with slightly more leg room and a fully refundable fare.

Spirit also offers a nonstop round trip to Denver and I was able to find flights for the same dates for $128.

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