This month, Las Vegas gains its fifth arena. To put that count in perspective, New York City has two and Chicago has three. LA also boasts five, but that’s spread out over almost 100 square miles. Ours reside within 1.3-square miles of one another.
It’s a phenomenon that baffles Gary Bongiovanni, president and CEO for concert industry trade magazine Pollstar. But, as he puts it, Las Vegas is unique. And the new T-Mobile Arena has no reason to sweat its competition.
“It’ll be the newest and biggest arena in town,” he says, “and all the biggest acts will want to play there.” The calendar backs that up, with major draws like Guns N’ Roses, Billy Joel, Janet Jackson, Garth Brooks, the Dixie Chicks and George Strait, the latter launching Vegas’ first arena residency there. And it could bait other acts with a limited number of dates into performing in town—maybe even holdouts like Bruce Springsteen and Adele.
One thing is certain: T-Mobile’s lure is sure to affect the schedules of MGM Resorts’ other two arenas, MGM Grand Garden and Mandalay Bay Events Center, though Bongiovanni quickly adds that they shouldn’t be left high and dry, either. He offers the example of artists exclusive to concert promoter Live Nation, which might opt for one of the two older venues to avoid the newer one co-owned by competitor AEG Live. (Both companies currently have shows booked at all three arenas.) But he adds an important caveat: “There’s a lower number of seats, so they [can’t get] the more lucrative offer, and artists go where they can make the most money.”
Higher artist guarantees are typically passed onto the consumer, which unfortunately means Las Vegans should continue to feel the sting of Vegas’ tourist-driven market. “Historically, ticket prices in Las Vegas have been higher than other markets,” Bongiovanni says, subscribing to the theory that vacationers—especially those who gamble—might not bat an eye over $100-$200 tickets. “Money is less a concern in that situation than if you live there paying your bills every month.” In more ways than one, T-Mobile Arena will truly test what the market can bear.
T-MOBILE'S SCHEDULE (SO FAR)
April 6 The Killers with Wayne Newton & Shamir
April 7 Nicki Minaj with Ariana Grande
April 8-9 Guns N’ Roses with Alice in Chains
April 19 Harlem Globetrotters
April 22-23 George Strait (returns for shows in September, December and February)
April 30 Billy Joel
May 7 Boxing: Canelo Álvarez vs. Amir Khan
May 14 Janet Jackson
June 24-25 & July 2-4 Garth Brooks with Trisha Yearwood
July 9 UFC 200
July 16 Dixie Chicks
October 21 Keith Urban with Brett Eldredge & Maren Morris
November 2-6 Professional Bull Riders: Built Ford Tough World Finals