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Alan Snel

Strip Arena owners launching VIP membership deal

22 October 2015

The owners of the new MGM Resorts International-AEG arena on the Strip are launching a new VIP club membership deal that will allow a member to buy a ticket for the vast majority of events at the $375 million venue that opens in April.

For an annual membership fee of either $3,500 or $5,000, a member receives pre-sale access to tickets for most events and entry to one of two swanky 6,400-square-foot clubs in the arena's center-section areas. A "desert by day" motif will be in the club on the arena's east side and a "desert by night" theme will be seen in the arena's west side club.

The seats purchased by club members for various events are not in the same exact spot for each event but are located in the center sections of the arena's lower level.

For paying $5,000, members gain access to a second event-level club.

With all 42 arena suites on the suite level between the lower and upper bowls sold out, and six of eight 700-square-foot "bunker" suites sold on the event level, the arena is now getting around to selling the 350 club memberships.

"It is an interesting concept. In reality, they are probably looking for 175 transactions assuming people buy two memberships," said sports facility consultant Bill Rhoda, who has consulted on several stadium and arena projects in the Las Vegas market. "I would assume they could move 175 transactions."

Mark Faber, AEG senior vice president for global partnerships, said he expects 75% of the club memberships to be in the $3,500-a-year category and 25 percent at the $5,000 level. There could be more memberships sold if the first 350 are bought, but the arena wants to see how the market responds to the premium membership program.

"We're going to start at that number (350 memberships). This is a unique product for this market," Faber said as he stood at one of the two center-section club areas Wednesday morning. He said the arena will starting holding open houses next month to explain the club membership program.

Faber noted another arena in Las Vegas that offers a premium membership deal is Orleans Arena, which is owned by Boyd Gaming.

Orleans Arena sells both suites and club seats on a subscription basis (usually on an annual basis but it varies by contract), said Samantha Roper, a Boyd Gaming spokesperson. Through the subscription program, members get tickets to every publicly ticketed event at the Orleans Arena, she said. For shows with multiple show times, they usually get to choose which time they would want to attend, she said.

The Thomas & Mack Center, which is undergoing a $72.5 million modernization project and is playing host to the Professional Bull Riders World Finals this week, does not sell club membership deals, said Michael Newcomb, the arena's director.

At the new MGM-AEG arena, which is shoehorned into 14.5 acres behind the New York-New York Hotel & Casino parking garage, the clubs are off the main concourse and will feature a VIP setting with drinks and food items that are not available at concourse concession stands. Each club with feature an elliptical-shaped bar and multiple TVs.

This type of arena club membership might seem relatively new for the Las Vegas market, but they are common at AEG's other arenas that are owned or managed by the Los Angeles-based sports and entertainment company.

For example, AEG has club membership deals at arenas such as the Staples Center in Los Angeles; Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri; Target Center in Minneapolis and KeyArena in Seattle, AEG spokesman Michael Roth said.

Roth said the Sprint Center also has an annual membership fee of $3,500, which allows the opportunity to purchase up to four tickets per publicly ticketed event per membership.

Buying a club membership at the MGM-AEG arena doesn't get you into the venue for an event. A member has to also buy a seat for the event, though many members end up staying in the club for long periods of time during a sports event or concert.

The new arena, which is cutting a deal soon for its naming rights, is expected to host to more than 100 annual concerts, basketball games, mixed martial arts fight shows and boxing matches. A person who buys a club membership, for example, will get a chance to buy a ticket for concerts being staged by George Strait (April) and Janet Jackson (May). Club members can also buy tickets to the Professional Bull Riders World Finals when it begins being held at the new arena in fall 2016.

The MGM-AEG arena is likely going to host to new National Hockey League team, which will be owned by majority owner Bill Foley and his minority partners, the Maloof brothers. Foley hopes the NHL Board of Governors, the league's ruling board, will approve a team for Las Vegas by February and that the new franchise would start playing in the fall of 2017.

But at this point, because the team has not been officially approved, the arena has not yet settled on exactly how it will integrate its club membership program with the season ticket down payments made by hockey fans who committed to the potential NHL franchise in Las Vegas.

"We'll discuss how club members will have potential access to the (NHL team) tickets," Faber said.
Strip Arena owners launching VIP membership deal is republished from