The Strip:

MGM Resorts’ Murren on prospect of charging for parking: ‘Everything’s on the table’

Bill Hughes / Las Vegas News Bureau

A tour of MGM Arena under construction behind Monte Carlo and New York-New York on Friday, May 1, 2015, in Las Vegas.

MGM Resorts International’s chief executive does not yet know whether his company will eventually charge drivers to park near its new arena on the Strip.

But he has apparently not ruled the option out.

The 20,000-seat arena, developed in partnership with Anschutz Entertainment Group, is set to open next year in the area behind New York-New York, which is owned by MGM Resorts. It’s intended to be a venue for entertainment events and potentially the home of a major league hockey team, if Las Vegas secures one.

Yet MGM Resorts is not building a new parking garage to accommodate the influx of customers to the area — instead, the company plans to rely on existing garages and lots for now.

MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren said in an interview on Thursday that his company did not have all the answers as to how it would address parking once the arena opens. He said the company was still studying the issue.

In fact, Murren said he originally preferred a different spot for the arena — to the south, near his company’s Mandalay Bay resort. The arena is instead being built at its current location in large part because of the surrounding infrastructure, including “thousands of parking spaces that we don’t use today,” Murren said. Nearby casinos include not only New York-New York, but also Monte Carlo and MGM Grand, all of which are owned by MGM Resorts.

Murren stressed that it was “pretty premature” to discuss with certainty how the parking situation would work. Still, he indicated that all options are possible — including charging for parking spots. Doing so, at least during big events at the arena, could arguably help control the supply of existing spaces.

“Everything’s on the table at this point in time,” Murren said. “I bet that by the end of this year, we will have a very clear plan for people to recognize that we have everyone’s interest in heart and in mind when we come up with our (parking) solution.”

Charging may not be necessary, though, from a supply control standpoint. New York-New York can certainly handle more drivers trying to park there, according to Muren, because it has a parking garage that was designed to handle an additional thousand-room hotel tower that never got built. MGM Resorts also has underused parking space at Monte Carlo, Bellagio, Aria and elsewhere, he said.

Steve Sisolak, chairman of the Clark County Commission, said he had been “intimately involved” with the issue of parking in the vicinity of the arena. Considering the options at all the nearby resorts, Sisolak said he was confident the area could offer enough parking spots.

“Is it going to be where you open your door and step out in the arena? No,” Sisolak said. “But … there’s more than enough adequate parking. I really don’t view it as a problem.”

As to whether MGM Resorts should charge for parking to capitalize on big events at the arena, Sisolak said that was a business decision. He said he had “the utmost confidence” in Murren and the company, and that he was sure whatever decision they would make would be best for their business and the Las Vegas area.

Although casinos in downtown Las Vegas already charge to park there, an abundance of free parking at major resorts is a staple of the Strip. As such, any attempt to charge for parking — even only at certain times and in certain places — might not go over well with many locals and regular visitors at first.

Murren also noted that the arena is being built without "one penny of taxpayer dollars.”

“So I’m not really sympathetic to somebody that says ‘I want everything free’ when we’re the ones spending the capital to build the amenities that are to the benefit of the tourists and the locals," he said.