Construction hums on $375 million Strip arena

Nearly four months after a festive ground breaking, rows of long, cylindrical rebar cages sit ready to be installed while loud construction vehicles bore holes 70 feet deep.

The two MGM Resorts International office buildings on the site? Reduced to rubble and long gone by now.

And rolling excavation machines have dug a shallow, oval-shaped hole of four feet or so on the 14.5-acre construction site to make way for the $375 million arena being built by the partnership of MGM Resorts and Anschutz Entertainment Group.

After decades of talk about a big-time arena on the Strip, the MGM-AEG duo took the plunge and was the first to move dirt in May. Set for a spring 2016 debut, the 20,000-seat venue is going up behind the New York-New York garage, just south of the City Center garage, with its entrance facing a plaza/pedestrian mall/park in the direction of Monte Carlo.

Construction is moving full steam ahead and a visit to the site revealed a loud concert of hole-boring rigs, earth-moving equipment and trucks carrying dirt away from the location. An average of 75 to 80 construction workers are onsite every day.

A full-glass curtain wall will greet arena fans, with the bulk of the visitors accessing the sports and entertainment center via a 5-acre park and plaza from the Strip. Multiple balconies will adorn the arena, while the building’s main entrance will be on the east side, providing shade for visitors for early evening events.

“When it all comes together with the park and the arena, there will be a lot of energy,” said Rob Stephens, senior vice president of Greenwood Village, Colo.-based ICON Venue Group, the project manager.

These are busy days for ICON, which is also working on sports venues to house the NBA Sacramento Kings, the NHL Edmonton Oilers and NFL Atlanta Falcons.

The arena will fit tightly into its site. The first concrete pad for the arena was set a mere 30 feet from the Rue de Monte Carlo road. The rear of the building will stand about 60 feet from Frank Sinatra Drive. Internal private roads will lead off Tropicana Avenue and Frank Sinatra Drive.

The construction site was busy this week with construction equipment as two big rigs and one smaller one was hammering away to make way for some of the 285 piles that will be installed to stabilize the arena.

Anthony Leone, director of construction development, expects visitors on the south side of Tropicana Avenue to use a pedestrian bridge spanning Tropicana to reach New York-New York, and then head east through the park and plaza to reach the arena entrance. The arena will built to serve MGM Resorts’ neighboring properties such as Monte Carlo, CityCenter, New York-New York, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay and Bellagio.

Work crews were also preparing the plaza with heavy grading. The plaza will include a pedestrian mall and park, complete with stores and restaurants. Caesars Entertainment has already built a plaza-style development, the $550 million Linq, between The Quad and Flamingo.

While construction crews were pouring concrete, installing concrete pads and boring pile holes, AEG staffers are already talking with companies for the naming rights to the building, AEG spokesman Michael Roth said. He declined to identify the companies.

Contact reporter Alan Snel at asnel@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273. Follow @BicycleManSnel on Twitter.

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