MGM-AEG arena to offer booking flexibility, open in April 2016

The new MGM Resorts International-AEG arena being built on the Strip will offer venue booking flexibility to MGM Resorts, which also owns the Mandalay Bay Events Center and the MGM Grand Garden arena within a few blocks of the arena site, an MGM Resorts executive said Wednesday.

Scott Voeller, MGM Resorts senior vice president for partnerships and event marketing, discussed the arena during the Motorsports Marketing Forum at Aria.

The $375 million arena is scheduled to open in April 2016.

Voeller said the 20,000-seat arena, packed with amenities such as luxury seating and suite options, would also like to host regional games for the NCAA Tournament. It’s too small to host an NCAA basketball Final Four, which is typically played in bigger venues.

The arena’s opening act in 2016 is still unknown. Ultimate Fighting Championship and boxing promoters have said they would like to christen the venue, but Anchutz Entertainment Group CEO Dan Beckerman said he envisions a slate of different opening events over several weeks to inaugurate the building.

The privately financed arena has fueled chatter about the Las Vegas-based Maloof family and other ownership groups interested in launching a National Hockey League team in the venue. Other groups interested in starting National Basketball Association or NHL teams in the new arena are also talking to MGM Resorts and AEG officials.

Voeller told the motorsports marketing crowd that the facility will be built to NBA and NHL specifications and will open ready to host a professional franchise.

He said that although the Las Vegas Valley has 2 million residents, it also has a 24-7 economy with many workers are spread across three shifts.

“There are challenges,” Voeller said. “So many workers are working three to midnight when so many games are played.”

The biggest arena on MGM Resorts’ current roster of venues is the Grand Garden, which is the home to many UFC fight show events, major boxing bouts and the Pac 12 Conference basketball tournament.

Voeller said those events will not necessarily move to the new arena because it will depend on dates and availability.

UFC President Dana White said he hopes UFC can stage about six annual fight events at the new arena.

The arena project is part of MGM Resorts’ entertainment strategy of providing a “wow” experience for its customers, including the 15 percent of guests who do not spend money on gaming, he said. MGM Resorts has launched two outdoor festival sites along the Strip and also a park and plaza development leading to the new arena from the Strip as more visitors seek entertainment options outside the casino, he said.

“There is a rethinking of what is entertainment,” Voeller said.

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

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