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Convention Center parking lots to be free during NFL draft

The parking lots around the Las Vegas Convention Center will be free and open to the public during NFL draft festivities in April, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President and CEO Steve Hill said Tuesday.

Parking was a hot topic as the LVCVA board of directors unanimously approved spending $2.4 million for draft preparations.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, a board member, said she was concerned about resorts near the center of draft activity at Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road “gouging” visitors with exorbitant parking charges during the April 23-25 events.

Hill noted another potential problem — guests of any resorts that don’t charge for parking would be crowded out with all the free parking taken by people attending the draft.

He said it would be difficult to require resort operators not to charge higher parking fees, since they are free to establish their own policies for their properties.

Two companies with the most parking capacity near the center of draft activity — MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp. — charge up to $18 a day to use their self-parking lots.

Caesars indicated late Tuesday that it won’t charge more to park at Caesars Palace, Flamingo, Harrah’s, Bally’s, Paris Las Vegas and The Linq Hotel.

“We have no plans to charge more than we would on any other busy weekend like the Super Bowl,” Caesars spokesman Rich Broome said in an email.

MGM representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company operates Bellagio, Aria and The Mirage near the draft site.

Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resorts Association, said Tuesday that she understands both sides of the issue — an opportunity for companies to generate additional revenue during a period of high demand, along with the potential impact on properties that don’t charge for parking.

“We are awaiting more information from the LVCVA regarding their parking plans so that the impacts on the resorts that offer free parking for their customers can be determined,” she said.

She said she hopes her group’s members can meet with the LVCVA, Clark County and the NFL in the near future to get additional details on the timing of street closures to plan for traffic congestion and parking.

Part of the $2.4 million authorized by the LVCVA board will go toward mobility efforts.

The LVCVA will pay the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada $127,745 for shuttle services to allow local residents wanting to attend the draft to park in outlying lots and ride buses to the Strip.

Making just over 2,400 parking spaces near the convention center available also should help.

Hill said the National Association of Broadcasters convention, which will bring in an estimated 103,000 people April 19-22, will be cleared out by the start of the draft and that the convention center’s parking lots would be offered at no charge to people wanting to park there and ride the Las Vegas Monorail to the draft venues. One of the monorail stops, the Harrah’s-Linq station, is close to the draft’s main stage.

Nevada residents can purchase monorail tickets for $1 a ride.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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