- Associated Press - Thursday, March 31, 2016

LAS VEGAS (AP) - MGM Resorts International will charge for parking during its T-Mobile Arena events starting next week, marking the Las Vegas Strip’s first introduction to its new fee-based reality.

The Strip’s largest casino operator said Thursday that prepaid parking will cost $10 for “Reserved Event Parking” in one of three existing garages near the new venue. On the day of an event, it will cost $20 for the same self-parking, or $30 for valet parking at the New York-New York or Monte Carlo sites.

The new $375 million privately-funded arena is a joint venture between MGM and entertainment giant AEG. The arena is behind the New York-New York and Monte Carlo resorts and sits next to the Park pedestrian mall opening Monday. The 20,000-seat venue will officially open Wednesday and will host music and sports events and, potentially, a professional hockey team if the NHL approves the city’s plans for an expansion team.

The company is doing a test run of the entire facility ahead of its debut with a free concert night at the arena Thursday for its employees and workers, who have been urged to report back notes of their parking experience.

“One of the things we’re asking them to do is park in different locations, whether they’re parking at MGM or Luxor and taking the trams or walking in through the Park,” said Jim Murren, MGM’s company chairman and CEO.

The prepaid option will specify the parking location and include directions to either the customer parking garages of the New York-New York and Monte Carlo, or a designated section of an Aria parking garage that is now used by employees.

But MGM isn’t exactly pushing event-goers to those fee options. The arena’s parking plan indicates there are enough spots for all MGM visitors, and the company said the new paid parking option is an upgrade for those who want to park as close as possible to the arena.

Company spokesman Gordon Absher said there’s an expectation that many will park based on their pre- and post-event plans at the various restaurants, bars, nightclubs and casinos along Las Vegas Boulevard, who will then get to the arena by walking, taxis, Uber rides, trams or the Las Vegas Monorail. Tourists in town likely wouldn’t drive at all.

“There is no best place” to park, Absher said. “There are many, many different options depending what you plan to do for the evening.”

A staff of parking attendants will ensure hotel guests will still park for free, although that will soon change, too. MGM in January announced its plans to charge up to $10 for parking across nearly all of its properties on the Strip by the end of June.

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