MGM rides Knights’ success wave
April 24, 2018 3:10 AM
by Phil Hevener
It doesn’t get much better than this for local resort operators as big deals continue taking shape up and down the Las Vegas Strip. The strong community-wide support lavished on the Golden Knights deserves an assist.
Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis might like to bottle the tidal wave of energy and enthusiasm generated by the success of the Golden Knights hockey team and put it on the shelf, saving it until the Raiders complete their move to Las Vegas and the team’s new billion-dollar home.
They will not settle in here until the 2020 season, but it is not too early to consider what may be possible if Davis and company can match the success of the Knights who are headed for the second round of the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup playoffs in the team’s first season.
It is a bit of an understatement to say top MGM Resorts officials are delighted with the success of the Knights and their ability to regularly attract capacity crowds of more than 18,000 who are quite willing to spend. Let’s not forget MGM owns thousands of hotel rooms within easy walking distance of the arena and the under-construction 65,000-seat stadium where the Raiders will play.
All of the restaurants at the MGM properties surrounding the T Mobile Arena where the Knights play seem to fill up on game nights. Other properties appear equally satisfied with the enthusiasm.
Art Manteris, director of race and sportsbook operations for the books operated by Station Casinos, says the success of the Knights has had an impact at the Red Rock on the west side of the city. “We had a concert here on the same night the Knights had their double overtime win against the Kings. After the concert there were thousands of people standing in the book waiting to see how the game would go.”
Station took advantage of what the Golden Knights have done, selling bottles of wine with the Golden Knights label. The appeal of Vegas combined with the surprising success of the NHL’s newest team “have combined to make the Knights the talk of the league,” says MGM senior VP Alan Feldman.
The size of those home game crowds and the wide support of the community have probably not been lost on the owners of other professional major league sports teams. Feldman acknowledges the accuracy of such thinking, saying, “You put a team in many locales and the best you can hope for is to draw local people.”
But companies such as Wynn, Caesars, the Golden Nugget, MGM and others already have the ability to reach into most areas of the country with offers calculated to have people headed this way. In short, such appeal enables a casino to offer an experience that involves much more than the chance to gamble.
Yes, there is more to Las Vegas appeal than the chance to gamble. As MGM president Jim Murren says, “We have become a travel destination for sports fans.” There was even recent curling competition at a non-MGM property. There is at least a little something for a wide variety tastes.
So where do Las Vegas marketers go from here? Onward and upward probably. All the obvious signs suggest local economic conditions are good and will continue to improve and resort strategists have shed their reluctance to focus solely on gambling. But gambling revenue tends to benefit from the presence of the “interesting stuff” that keeps people in the building.
And as the Jim Murrens of the gaming and entertainment business ponder their next addition to the list of fun and games available here, companies such as Reno-based Eldorado Resorts are eyeing the prospects for Southern Nevada ventures.