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MGM exec promises 'robust operations plan' for arena traffic

25 Sep 2015

By Alan Snel
MGM Resorts International officials were not ready Thursday to offer a lot of details on parking and traffic plans for their new $375 million arena on the Strip.

But MGM Resorts executive Rick Arpin, who is overseeing arena operations, promised a "robust operations plan" for parking and traffic at the venue that will sit 17,500 for hockey and 19,500 for fight events.

Arpin did offer ideas such as pedicabs taking visitors to the arena and better signage to guide fans to the venue, which is being built behind the New York-New York Hotel & Casino parking garage and across from the Monte Carlo Las Vegas Resort & Casino. MGM Resorts is partnering with Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) on the arena, which is scheduled to open in April.

Arpin said he personally took a pedicab ride for two miles to a sports facility in Denver, and came away impressed with the pedicab's effectiveness.

Arpin made his promise about an arena parking and traffic plan before the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, a panel of public officials and hotel-casino representatives tackling transportation and connectivity issues facing airports, stadiums, arenas and convention centers.

After his presentation, Arpin told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that MGM Resorts is building a road at Excalibur on the south side of Tropicana Avenue to help people get to the arena and will also come out with apps and other tech tools to help visitors deal with traffic in the vicinity of the arena and to find parking.

Arpin also wants permission to erect arena signs on I-15. But he noted that because the arena is not public, MGM Resorts does not have the green light to have arena exit signs on the interstate. MGM and AEG have privately financed the arena, and no public dollars are being used.

Not posting an arena exit sign on I-15 is "seemingly strange to us," Arpin told the infrastructure committee that was created by Gov. Brian Sandoval. Arpin said he took photos of arena signs on highways in other states.

Tina Quigley, general manager of Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, liked Arpin's idea of pedicabs serving the arena.

Quigley, one of several infrastructure advisory committee members, said the arena would probably have to talk with Clark County about pedicab safety aspects.

Arpin said MGM and AEG officials are still working on the traffic and parking plan, which will instruct where taxis, limos and Uber and Lyft ride-hailing vehicles are supposed to go. The plan will likely be unveiled about four to six weeks before the arena opens in the spring.

MGM Resorts likes visitors going to their venues' shows because "people who see a show are more likely to gamble and spend more during their stay," according to MGM's presentation.

In other stadium/arena developments:

-- Arpin said he expects a naming rights deal for the MGM-AEG arena (also called the Las Vegas Arena) in the next few months. He joked with Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, that he won't be able to get free exposure from the "Las Vegas" Arena for too much longer.

-- Don Snyder, a UNLV executive who chaired the UNLV stadium board last year, told the committee that the campus stadium should be covered with seating for 55,000-60,000. That's different from the stadium board's recommendation that a new stadium be shaded (not covered) and have seating for 45,000-50,000.

-- Both Ralenkotter and Pat Christenson, president of Las Vegas Events, LVCVA's events and promotions nonprofit arm, said Las Vegas is losing out on competing for events because the market's current stadium, Sam Boyd Stadium, doesn't have enough seats.

-- The Monster Jam producer for Feld Entertainment told committee that Sam Boyd Stadium is the worst stadium of the 45 stadiums used for his event.

About 60 people attended the tourism infrastructure meeting at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

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