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Golden Knights drive T-Mobile Arena’s success, executive says

Updated April 10, 2018 - 11:54 pm

The Golden Knights’ debut as the NHL’s most successful first-year expansion team has helped T-Mobile Arena sell itself as an entertainment destination on the Las Vegas Strip, an arena executive said Tuesday.

Raul Gutierrez, executive director of arena operations, spoke at the annual National Association of Broadcasters convention during a panel on new ways to broadcast professional sports.

“We are trying to set the trend for what to expect for Las Vegas,” he said of the arena, which turned 2 on Friday.

‘Hungry’ fans

One of the best compliments Gutierrez said he has received came from a visiting New York Islanders fan, who touched on the volume of activity happening when the players are off the ice.

“They don’t give you a chance to breathe,” the fan said.

When Los Angeles fans and others visit Las Vegas for the playoffs, Gutierrez wants traditions such as the pregame march up Las Vegas Boulevard and the in-stadium experience to make them desire to return to T-Mobile.

Compared with the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York — where Gutierrez worked for about three years before moving to the valley — T-Mobile attendees have embraced entertainment outside of the hockey game.

“Las Vegas fans are more accepting and hungry,” he said.

While he’s mum on details for this week, Gutierrez said the arena has collected plenty of data, down to how long attendees take to return to their cars. Gutierrez told the panel crowd he wants to get that number down from at least 35 minutes to 30 minutes.

His staff follows social media posts to see where parking is full and whether something is wrong with the food.

And the pre-game concert from rapper Logic is a chance to remind audiences that the arena is in what he called the entertainment capital of the world.

Arenas still profitable

In a separate panel Tuesday, Rick Arpin, senior vice president of entertainment for T-Mobile Arena part-owner MGM Resorts, said stadiums still make money.

Though online viewing of sports has been a challenge for TV networks, companies such as MGM that buy sponsorships and sell sponsorships to events they host still see new arenas as wise investments, Arpin said.

“Venues are not dying by any stretch,” he said. “It’s the opposite.”

Contact Wade Tyler Millward at wmillward@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4602. Follow @wademillward on Twitter.

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