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Dear MGM: Please build a parking garage for the new arena

12 Oct 2015

By Richard N. Velotta
MGM Resorts International is a fine company with great resort properties.

It's Nevada's largest employer, it's progressive and does a lot of work with diversity initiatives, philanthropy and community service.

That's why I'm counting on the company to do the right thing and build a parking garage for the new arena the company is opening next spring.

You've probably heard the reasons why MGM doesn't have a dedicated parking facility for the arena, which will seat 20,000 people.

Many of the events at the arena, built in a partnership with the Anschutz Entertainment Group, will be big-ticket entertainers and sporting events. MGM figures most of the people attending those events will be coming from out of town and will already have a parking place at whatever resort they choose to stay.

MGM officials say there are between 4,000 and 5,000 parking stalls at the existing New York-New York Hotel & Casino and Monte Carlo Las Vegas Resort & Casino parking structures which are close to the arena.

The company also hopes to redefine how people attend concerts and sporting events by turning them into half-day experiences.

In places like Los Angeles, people attending events at the Staples Center will arrive early and take in a meal at nearby L.A. Live before walking over to the arena, which also is owned by Anschutz, known in the industry as AEG.

For the MGM-AEG arena in Las Vegas, MGM is building a park and plaza on the Strip side of the property to capture some of that dinner crowd.

Will most of the crowds attending events at the arena really be out-of-towners? For many of the events, probably. Although the first act in the arena, country singer George Strait, has plenty of local followers who will want to see the first event ever staged at MGM-AEG Arena, or whatever it ends up being called.

But trust me on this: On the day of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals when the Las Vegas Black Knights, or whatever the city's new hockey team will be called, take the ice against the Boston Bruins, it's going to be a huge local crowd. It's a crowd that is going to want some close-by parking.

Late last month, the Nevada Department of Transportation had its first meeting about a proposal for a major overhaul of the Interstate 15 interchange at Tropicana Avenue. (Don't panic, everybody … it isn't on the calendar for work for at least five years.)

But it got engineers and citizens attending the meeting to thinking about the need for close-in arena parking — and people attending the meeting had an idea for where it could go.

The I-15-Tropicana project is proposed as a complete reconstruction of the interchange, including the flyover bridge that was the first of its kind along I-15 near the Strip.

The Tropicana bridge over I-15 will be wider, longer and taller over the freeway in order to allow Tropicana traffic to flow better, for the acceleration lane onto I-15 from the collector-distributor frontage road to be two lanes wide and longer and to prevent collisions with the bridge that occasionally occur because it's less than the standard height.

People attending the meeting suggested that an ideal location for a parking structure would be in the existing Excalibur Hotel and Casino parking lot, just south of where the Tropicana flyover merges with the street.

If MGM were to build a parking structure and a pedestrian bridge over Tropicana, fans could park within 10 minutes of the arena entrance. MGM could even make it convenient for fans by dropping escalators or elevators down to street level.

It's doubtful that MGM would entertain such a plan because parking structures aren't cheap and the whole idea of getting people to go early is to get fans to spend a little more and go to MGM's restaurants and bars.

But it is a good idea, hopefully one that a company as responsible as MGM would entertain.

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