As We See It

MGM’s Park: Not another mall on the Strip

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Bliss Dance, a sculpture of a dancing woman created by artist Marco Cochrane, is shown during the grand opening of The Park Monday, April 4, 2016. The new pocket park, lined with restaurants and seating for outdoor dining, runs from the Las Vegas Strip to the new T-Mobile Arena.
Photo: Steve Marcus

We made the comparison, but we were wrong—the Park is nothing like the Linq. The Linq, which culminates in the High Roller observation wheel, is jam-packed with bars, restaurants, stores and services. The Park, which culminates in the T-Mobile Arena, has more open space, particularly closer to the arena, and only four new bars and restaurants: chicken-and-waffle spot Bruxie, MGM’s Beerhaus, California Pizza Kitchen and multi-level Asian restaurant and lounge Sake Rok. Technically, the Shake Shack open for more than a year in front of New York-New York is part of the Park, too. But this thing doesn’t feel mall-ish, like the Linq and other nearby outdoor retail plazas. It feels park-ish.

The Park is for pedestrians, but there’s still a street for vehicles only, running from the Strip to the arena between NY-NY and Monte Carlo, and it’s not going away. Even when the latter’s new theater opens at the end of the year—the towering structure just north of the Park—that road will stay, meaning pedestrian traffic between the Park and Monte Carlo could be tricky.

Southern Nevada Water Authority General Manager John Entsminger was on hand at Monday’s unveiling to tout the Park’s environmental efficiencies, a given considering MGM Resorts has saved about 800 million gallons of water in the past five years thanks to dedicated conservation efforts. He talked about the neato green features, like the anemometers around each tree that automatically shut off the irrigation on crazy-windy days to prevent wasteful evaporation.

The Park Grand Opening

Which Park venue are we most excited about? Probably Beerhaus, which is dedicating many of its taps to local brews, but Sake Rok is intriguing. It has a beautiful rooftop patio and private event space, and one of its sushi platters is served with a huge plastic Godzilla and dry-ice theatrics. Yes.

The Park’s lone art installment is Bliss Dance by San Francisco-based sculptor Marco Cochrane, whose work is defined by a celebratory femininity free from the threat of abuse. How does he know he picked the right home for his iconic creation? During the April 4 illumination ceremony of the 40-foot-tall sculpture—first unveiled during the 2010 edition of Burning Man—Cochrane said his artistic purpose traces back to a violent incident he witnessed as a child in front of his house. When he recently reached out to the victim for the first time in decades, she revealed that she had relocated—to Las Vegas. She was even in attendance Monday night to see how Cochrane turned her negative experience into a symbol of empowerment, one that could inspire millions of visitors.

Our first walk in the Park had us thinking about something we hadn’t considered: this thing is really going to change the Monte Carlo. When you walk in and out of the arena, you’ll be right at the 20-year-old resort’s forgotten porte cochére. It’s no wonder MGM is planning a wholesale rebranding. The Monte Carlo needs to get much cooler in a hurry.

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Mike Prevatt

Mike started his journalism career at UCLA reviewing CDs and interviewing bands, less because he needed even more homework and ...

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Brock Radke

Brock Radke has been writing about Las Vegas for almost two decades. He currently serves as editor-at-large covering entertainment and ...

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