Las Vegas Strip to get public park
Small area will serve as a respite from its shut-in traditions
LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas is trying to beat its reputation as a shut-in.
MGM Resorts International announced Thursday that it will sink $100 million into building a park and public promenade outside of its New York-New York and Monte Carlo casinos.
The project runs counter to casinos' long-held strategy of keeping people inside, losing track of time as they buy more chips and flit from one pricey attraction to the next.
"It's what customers were really excited about in the '80s and '90s- the convenience of being in a single environment when you could sample so many different kinds of entertainment," MGM CEO Jim Murren said. "Tomorrow's consumer doesn't want that limitation. They are far more spontaneous."
To that end, MGM is transforming the congested sidewalks in front of its New York City and European-themed casinos into an outdoor plaza featuring trees, benches, food trucks and shops. Construction is expected to begin in the coming weeks and last through 2014.
Murren said he was inspired by New York City's small and cosmopolitan Madison Square Park, as opposed to the more sprawling Central Park.
"We're not going to play Frisbee on the Great Lawn, but I would describe it as a city park with a dramatic boulevard," he said.
Tourists will be able to stroll over a replica of the Brooklyn Bridge, relax in a beer garden and enjoy a cone of frozen custard from Shake Shack, an upscale burger stand that has become a New York favorite.
Renderings depict Gen Xers fiddling with smartphones under shade trees.
The plaza on the stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard near Tropicana Avenue is intended to lead into a 20,000-seat arena MGM plans to build behind the two casinos.
The park and arena will stretch across 10 acres; that's 20 percent more land than the lake in front of the Bellagio hotel-casino.