MGM Resorts to begin charging parking fees

Jan 18, 2016 10:37 AM

MGM Resorts will begin charging for parking at its Las Vegas hotels and casinos this year.

It had to happen eventually. Land that was vacant in the not very distant past is giving way to land with lots of new stuff on it – everything from giant arenas, theaters and entertaining architecture of one kind or another to, well...parking garages that cost far more than Howard Hughes once spent to buy hotels by the handful.

The announcement from MGM said the company is building a 3,000-space parking garage near the northwest corner of the Excalibur property on Tropicana near I-15.

More than 42 million visitors a year will force this kind of change on a travel destination whose ambitious leaders hope to see the growth continue.

The way a Strip valet parker explained it to me, “They’ve gotta make it as easy as possible for people to get inside and start spending.”

The MGM announcement spoke of “enhancements” to the existing parking situation.

But what it means is that free parking is going the way of $1 blackjack tables.

As always there is a way around the “moderate fees” that are in fact very reasonable compared to trying to find a safe place to park a car in downtown LA or midtown Manhattan.

Locals and nonresident guests at the MGM properties can earn “free parking status” through M Life, MGM’s customer loyalty program.

But about those “enhancements,” that will cost about $36 million to complete and will include redesigned facility layouts to improve accessibility, elevator and escalator upgrades, parking guidance systems that will point guests to available spaces and mobile technology allowing guests to check space availability before arrival.

MGM Resorts Chief Operating Officer Corey Sanders acknowledged, “We don’t take this change lightly. We recognize it is a significant departure from a long-established paradigm in the Las Vegas market. However, we believe these enhancements and new technology solutions will become welcome additions to our guest experience.”

He’s probably right. Guests groaned and complained about resort fees introduced after 9-11 as hotels struggled to boost revenue. But the complaining has mostly gone away just as airline travelers have accepted luggage fees as  part of the price associated with travel in today’s new world.

Other Vegas resorts will be carefully monitoring MGM’s new parking strategy.

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: [email protected].