By Barry Janoff
April 6, 2016: With the grand opening this week of the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the city is ready for more high-profile entertainment and sports.
But will pro sports be ready for Las Vegas with the arrival of the T-Mobile Arena?
The 20,000-seat venue, a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and AEG, which owns and operates sports teams and events worldwide, officially opens its doors tonight (April 6) with The Killers, Wayne Newton and Shamir.
That launches an opening week that will also see Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande (April 7) and Guns n' Roses (April 8-9.)
But the venue, located on the Las Vegas Strip between New York-New York and Monte Carlo, was also built with sports top-of-mind.
As its operators explain on the Web site, T-Mobile Arena was "designed from the beginning with the possibility of playing home to a professional sports team. Well-thought-out locker rooms created specifically for NHL and NBA teams and plenty of multi-purpose space allow for the venue to hold a wide variety of sporting events, from individual games to multi-day tournaments."
Upcoming sports events include WBC middleweight world champions Canelo Alvarez facing Amir "King" Khan (May 7), WWE presents Money in the Bank (June 19), UFC 200 (July 9) and the Professional Bull Riders World Finals (Nov. 2-6).
“We are confident that T-Mobile Arena will transform the entertainment landscape in Las Vegas, further elevating the city’s status as one of the iconic sports and entertainment destinations in the world," Dan Beckerman, president and CEO for AEG, said in a statement. "Bringing together the knowledge, experience and assets of AEG and MGM Resorts International, T-Mobile Arena will become the region’s must-play venue and one of the world’s most sought after destinations for live events.
"This is the right time, the right location and the right partnership for this groundbreaking arena," said Beckerman.
Also on the Web site is a section titled "Vegas Wants Hockey," tapping into the fact that Las Vegas has been mentioned on several short lists of potential NHL expansion destinations.
The NHL has ties to the city, having held its annual post-season awards show there for the past seven years.
"Our story begins with a goal . . . to bring NHL hockey to Las Vegas," according to Vegas Wants Hockey. "And Las Vegas is ready — ready for the energy, excitement and thrill that only NHL hockey can deliver. We’ve done the research, polled the community and rallied our local businesses. All are eager to support an NHL team. Las Vegas is ready to join the elite list of 'NHL Cities.'
Even with no NHL team in its immediate future, overseers are taking those steps by accepting deposits on season tickets, and a mock-up of a hockey seating plan in T-Mobile Arena shows that center ice seats on both sides already are sold out via $900 deposits, as are other sections of the arena.
In addition to T-Mobile, founding partners include Anheuser-Busch (Bud Light), Coca-Cola, Bank of America, Tosiba. Venue partners include Jack Daniel's, Grey Goose and Tequila Patron. Levy Restaurants is handling concessions.
"Las Vegas has deserved a professional sports franchise for years. Now is the time to make the dream a reality. Help bring Vegas its first NHL team."
The fact that T-Mobile itself has solid sports ties, as an official partner with MLB in addition to other alliances; that the UFC is headquartered in Las Vegas; the NBA having held its 2007 All-Star Game in the Thomas and Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas; and the USA Men's National Basketball Team regularly training in Las Vegas has given credence that the door is ajar, if not open, to the city at some point hosting a pro team among the four major sports.
"Configurable telescopic seating in the lower bowl can create unobstructed sightlines for any sport: shallow for basketball, steep for hockey and a hybrid of both for UFC fights," according to the Web site, "The towering three-story scoreboard hanging above the event floor provides crisp, high-definition video of the action — and reaction."
“This is an exciting time for Las Vegas and everyone involved in the development of T-Mobile Arena; tonight we are opening a world-class venue that we believe will become Las Vegas’ new center of entertainment,” Jim Murren, chairman and CEO for MGM Resorts International, said in a statement. “Las Vegas has long been known as the 'Entertainment Capital of the World,' and with all the development we’ve unveiled this week in the neighborhood, you can see our deep commitment to ensuring Las Vegas holds that title for generations to come.”
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