All of the pre-opening press in Las Vegas about the T-Mobile arena behind New York-New York and The Park adjacent to the casino was blissfully positive. Frankly, it all sounded too good to be true, after all, this was essentially an alley and unused land renovated to be home to an arena and some restaurants.
After a preview of The Park leading to the new T-Mobile Arena, I’m happy to say that this was an occasion in Las Vegas where the project lived up to the hype. The Park is a great use of space and feels like an outdoor extension of New York-New York. The restaurants are great and they lead into a new 20,000 seat state-of-the-art arena that will be home to plenty of concerts and just about every major sporting event that will happen in Las Vegas.
The sporting events on the T-Mobile Arena docket for 2016 are the following:
May 7 - Saul Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Kahn (big Cinco De Mayo weekend fight)
June 19 - WWE “Money In The Bank” (that’s kind of a sport)
July 9 - UFC 200 (a rematch of Diaz and McGregor is still to be confirmed)
November 2-6 - PBR World Finals
December 10 - Duke vs. UNLV (confirmed this weekend but not announced)
The calendar for 2017 hasn’t been released yet but there's one confirmed event, the Pac-12 basketball tournament will move from MGM Grand Garden Arena to T-Mobile Arena next year. T-Mobile Arena would also be home to an NHL team if one is approved by the league later this year. The arena will be as technologically advanced as you can imagine and there will be perks for T-Mobile users.
The Park fits perfectly as a lead in to T-Mobile Arena from the Vegas Strip. The area of bars and restaurants offer indoor and outdoor fun before and after events at the arena. As you walk into The Park you’ll pass through a water feature that creates a separation from the Vegas Strip. This pathway acts as respite if you want to relax, but it’s also a gateway to the arena and any kind of party you want to have.
All of the restaurants are moderately priced for the Vegas Strip. They all fall into the category of "not cheap but not awfully priced for the area." For example, a burger at Shake Shack will cost $8-$9 and a meal with fries and a soft drink will be around $14. The price isn't bad for the Vegas Strip but it might be more than you’d pay for a similar meal at home. With that being said, everything at The Park (and most of the Vegas Strip) is priced accordingly.
If you’re looking for a quick bite you can grab a burger at Shake Shack and be perfectly happy. If you’re heading to the arena for an event you can grab Shake Shack inside the arena instead. The 2nd location in the arena makes me think that you should skip Shake Shack and head next door to Bruxie for a quick bite if you're heading to an event. The waffle sandwiches at Bruxie are similarly priced (under $10) to Shake Shack and delicious. The waffles are light and flavorful and the ingredients are all carefully prepared and delicious. They’re also extremely portable if you want to eat on the run.
Beer drinkers might want to get a sandwich to go and grab a beer next door. Beerhaus is the perfect spot for anyone heading to a game at T-Mobile Arena. The beer selection is excellent and the food is also delicious. The prices are in line with everything else at The Park. If you’re early for the game or event you can play foosball, Jenga, shuffleboard, cornhole, connect four while you get busy with some beer and food. If you’re in a rush, you can walk in and grab a beer or sandwich to go.
If you’re looking for a legit sit-down meal you can head to Sake Rok. It’s the closest restaurant to T-Mobile Arena and has sushi plus multiple forms of entertainment. This isn't a quiet restaurant and it should be a nice spot to get the night started if you like sushi. Again, Saki Rok has an outdoor bar if you just want a drink on the way to the game or event. This is probably the only bar with slushy drinks that people visiting Las Vegas love so much.
The Park and T-Mobile Arena doesn’t bring back memories of the Las Vegas experience that I grew up with, however, they both encompass things that many people have always loved about Las Vegas - outdoor drinking and dining, major sports and concert events and nearby casino gambling are as Vegas as Vegas can be. Don’t get lost in the hype, this is just a new presentation of the things that we all love about Las Vegas.