Sam Morris / Las Vegas News Bureau
Wednesday, April 6, 2016 | 4:51 p.m.
A handful of stray construction workers scurried through T-Mobile Arena this morning, tidying up seating areas and plastering wallpaper in the concourses.
Finishing touches came down to the final hour, but the Strip’s premier multipurpose venue is officially ready. Tonight’s grand opening festivities, a concert featuring The Killers, Wayne Newton and Shamir, will unveil the facility co-owned by MGM Resorts International and Anschutz Entertainment Group to the public.
“We knew we had to deliver something that locals as well as tourists around the world would be proud of,” MGM Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said at the grand-opening press conference. “I can tell you when you visit this arena tonight, and any night, you will say there’s no better arena, no better venue in the world.”
In lieu of the traditional ribbon cutting to commence activity, naming sponsor T-Mobile arranged a joint button pushing from local customers and retail employees. A montage then played over the 200-foot mesh video wall at the front of the arena that highlighted upcoming events including this weekend’s pair of performances from the reformed lineup of Guns N’ Roses and July’s UFC 200.
It signaled the end of the building phase, which began with a similarly ceremonious groundbreaking in the same location on May 1, 2014.
“Where in the world can you build anything in two years on time and on budget,” Murren asked. “Right here in Las Vegas. That’s why we’re No. 1.”
The originally targeted opening month of May 2016 seemed ambitious when the project was first discussed three years ago. But the swift dismantling of two MGM corporate offices and advent of 3,500 construction workers put it ahead of schedule almost immediately.
Those who toured the venue over the last month reported plenty of interior work needing finishing. That could explain the waft of fresh paint and new tile that filled the space Wednesday.
But every tile was polished, every suite was cleaned and every seat — T-Mobile Arena can hold up to 20,000 people — was uncovered.
“We have over 120 venues all over the world, and T-Mobile not only represents the best of all of them but goes far above and beyond anything that’s been constructed before,” AEG President Dan Beckerman said. “We believe that this venue is going to transform the entertainment business in Las Vegas forever.”
Issues discovered in AEG’s landmark west coast arena, Los Angeles’ Staples Center, were addressed at T-Mobile Arena. The local venue was built steeper than Staples Center, giving every seat better sight lines and a more intimate feel.
The top floor was built purposely for Hyde, an SBE Entertainment Group nightclub, instead of nestled into an existing space like at Staples Center. Hyde can accommodate up to 780 spectators and will serve as the brand’s flagship arena location, according to SBE spokesman Kozmoe Alonzo.
“It’s a VIP experience,” Alonzo said. “If you’ve never had the experience of hanging out in an owner’s box, you can do that for a night.”
Hyde will be open for every event catering to crowds 21 and older, meaning next week’s Harlem Globetrotters’ game is the only scheduled date where it won’t be available. Alonzo echoed sports fans all across town by expressing hope the lounge could serve 41 home hockey games starting next year.
T-Mobile Arena is already armed for the possibility of the NHL bringing an expansion franchise for the 2017-2018 season. One half of the bottom floor is equipped with locker rooms specialized for hockey, while the other has the same for basketball.
On the South side, there are even storage spots for Zambonis.
“I’m excited for the millions of tourists and locals who for many, many years to come will be here to enjoy the world’s best concerts and sporting events,” Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said. “I have no doubt many special moments will occur here.”
Las Vegas’ preeminent rock band promised the first one tonight. Killers vocalist Brandon Flowers and drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Jr., received a country proclamation and silver key to the Strip as part of the opening ceremony.
Flowers reminisced working at casinos up and down the strip before his band’s breakthrough as a way to illustrate his excitement for T-Mobile Arena.
“This is a really proud day for us,” Flowers said.
MGM and AEG officials expressed hope that the rest of Las Vegas feels the same way.