Tuesday, April 5, 2016 | 2 a.m.
The opening of T-Mobile Arena is going to be one of those singularly “Viva Las Vegas” moments, and we can never have too many of those in this city.
Hopefully, someone or maybe everyone in the lineup at the new facility on the Strip will roll out that Las Vegas anthem during Wednesday night’s opening-night performance.
The Killers certainly know it. So does Wayne Newton, two of the Las Vegas-established acts, along with hip-hop artist Shamir, to open the show. Some electricity around the arena leads me to believe that there will be even more Las Vegas entertainment elements in that first night’s show:
Possibly Cirque artists. Possibly members of Blue Man Group. Possibly a Strip headliner who likes to toss objects airborne. We will see.
Reaching beyond that opening-night show, challenges and opportunities abound for the 20,000-seat T-Mobile, which hosted a show for employees (performed by country stars Martina McBride and Cam) on Thursday night for a few thousand MGM Resorts employees.
Helping send MGM Resorts’ message in the run-up to the opening of T-Mobile is Mark Prows, the company’s senior vice president of arenas. Highlights of a recent interview with the exec:
NHL play could, conceivably, begin at T-Mobile in time for the 2017-’18 season:
Not too get terribly ahead of the game (though we might have just done that), those interested in the NHL’s expansion to Las Vegas now understand that prospective team owner Bill Foley and officials with T-Mobile have met every requirement to be awarded an expansion team.
There is hope that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will make an announcement this summer that Las Vegas will be awarded one of two expansion teams.
“The league is doing everything it can to keep us comfortable even as this has been a complicated and evolving process,” Prows said. “We hope to see a determination by the summer, but it is possible to be ready in time for the 2017-2018 season.
“We are ready, and the venue is ready, in every aspect. We are super-optimistic and hopeful that the owners and the league want to do this. We just need to wait until the timing is right for them.”
An NCAA Basketball Tournament regional is moving toward reality:
T-Mobile could easily serve as a women’s or men’s regional NCAA Tournament site, but the issue has always been to persuade the NCAA to change its rules about staging officially sanctioned events in a city with open sports betting.
“It would be very, very helpful for the NCAA to relax regulations regarding playoff games,” Prows said. “Long-term or short-term, we’re where we want to be. We already have the Pac-12 Tournament moving to the new building (in 2017).”
However, even if the NCAA approves postseason basketball play for the men’s or women’s tournaments, T-Mobile at the moment is not a lock to host those games. The Thomas & Mack Center has undergone a $70 million upgrade and has the facilities (including Mendenhall Pavilion) to satisfy multiple college teams over multiple days.
Plan for parking:
Here we go: The best access for the two garages closest to T-Mobile, New York-New York and Monte Carlo, is off Frank Sinatra Drive. That is for northbound and southbound traffic.
Parking is $10 at either garage or on the fifth and sixth floors of Aria (go to LasVegas.ParkMobile.com to reserve an event parking pass). Valet parking is offered for $30 at Monte Carlo. Parking also is available at several nearby resorts; those singled out previously by MGM Resorts officials include MGM Grand and Excalibur.
The arena is to offer a designated Uber/Lyft/taxi drop-off area. The Las Vegas Monorail runs the east side of the Strip and has stopping points at the Linq, Paris/Bally’s and MGM Grand for a walk across the Strip (for a detailed parking plan for the arena, go to T-MobileArena.com/parking).
Importantly, the roadwork being done on Tropicana Avenue and Frank Sinatra is to be cleared by the time the arena opens Wednesday.
“The key is to plan for how you want to access the venue,” Prows said. “We have put together a robust plan to deal with all of the challenges in opening an arena on the Strip.”