Harrah’s to Build Arena Next to Bally’s
Harrah’s shocked many this week when it announced it is partnering with AEG to develop a world-class sports and entertainment arena in Las Vegas.
The privately-financed indoor venue will be built on the currently empty lot that sits right behind Harrah’s-owned Bally’s and Paris resorts. This would put the venue on 10 acres of land right next to the Strip.
“This site, behind our Bally’s and Paris resorts, is an ideal location for this arena as it is within walking distance of the Strip and conveniently located for the nearly 40 million visitors to Las Vegas each year,” said Gary Loveman, chairman, CEO and president of Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc., in a press release. “This arena is part of our on-going growth strategy and very much a part of our master plan for Las Vegas.”
As part of the deal, AEG will leverage its worldwide reputation and booking capabilities to develop and program a wide range of events from concerts to live sporting events. This would enable Harrah’s to give south Strip arenas at MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay, as well as the Thomas and Mack Center and the off-Strip Orleans Arena, a run for their money in grabbing the big ticket events.
“There has never been a better time to create a world-class arena for Las Vegas,” added Timothy J. Leiweke, president and CEO, of AEG. “A city known for showcasing the most important and popular artists, events and extravaganzas needs a state-of-the-art arena to ensure that every important touring act considers Las Vegas a ‘must-play’ city while solidifying the city’s reputation globally.”
The arena is also being developed so it could potentially house an NBA or NHL sports franchise. Rumors are that film and TV producer Jerry Bruckheimer is very interested in bringing an NHL franchise to town.
“We continue to have productive conversations with potential owners and are optimistic that either basketball or hockey, or both, will be played in Las Vegas when the venue opens,” Leiweke confirmed.
The arena will hold close to 20,000, including luxury suites and club seats. The venue will also feature private “hospitality centers,” gourmet food offerings and an array of luxury amenities.
Final cost for the project is said to be around $500 million, but AEG and Harrah’s should have no problem making that back, with over 200,000 rooms all within walking distance and a monorail stop right at Bally’s/Paris. Not to mention the money to be brought in on naming rights to the arena. AEG recently negotiated a $12 million annual deal for naming rights to the new O2 arena in London.
But wait! Wasn’t the city of Las Vegas planning to build a sports-class arena just north of downtown in hopes of luring a sports franchise to the city? Yes, and Mayor Goodman says plans will still go ahead to build the proposed $9.5 billion complex that will also include a casino, plus retail and residential buildings. He feels the city is growing fast enough for there to be room for both.
In an interview with ESPN, Goodman commented, “The people that come for concerts and conventions, we’re confident they’ll visit more than one place on the Strip and we’re confident they’ll visit at least one of our arenas, if not both.”
Construction on this new Harrah’s-AEG arena is expected to commence a year from now, in the summer of 2008, with the projected opening in 2010.
I’m just wondering what they’re going to do about the added traffic problems this is going to cause to the already congested nearby intersection of Flamingo Rd and Las Vegas Blvd., as well as surrounding roads. I can just imagine 5,000 or more cars all trying to leave at the same time…and you think the Strip is crowded on a weekend now?