Grammys Could Be Moving, Have a Hold on a Venue in Las Vegas
The new front-runner venue on The Strip comes with a major financial drawback — no luxury suites.
Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena could be the host venue for the 2022 Grammys, sources tell Billboard.
Other venues are under consideration to host the rescheduled awards show, sources say, but Recording Academy officials have quietly placed a hold on the MGM Grand Garden Arena, which in just two days has gone from backup-plan venue to front-runner due to the lack of available replacement venues in Los Angeles.
Located on the Las Vegas Strip inside the MGM Grand hotel and casino, the 29-year-old sports and music venue has operated as a joint venture between AEG and MGM Resorts International since 2016 when the two companies built the T-Mobile Arena, which they own and operate as a 50-50 joint venture. In terms of hosting the 2022 Grammys, it meets two essential requirements – it’s available in April 2022 when Recording Academy executives hope to stage the rescheduled Grammys, and at 17,000 seats it has a large enough seating capacity to host the event. (The Recording Academy declined to comment for this story.)
There is, however, one serious disadvantage — unlike the AEG-owned Crypto.com Arena (formerly Staples Center) which has hosted the Grammys 19 times in the last 22 years — the MGM Grand Garden Arena doesn’t have luxury suites.
That could mean a major financial concession for Recording Academy, which generates millions of dollars in sales each year leasing Crypto.com Arena’s 172 suites for “music’s biggest night,” sources tell Billboard. But moving the Grammys to the spring leaves the awards with few good venue options. While a springtime ceremony should be enough time for the current coronavirus surge to pass, it eliminates Crypto.com Arena and nearly every major professional sports arena in the country.
Both the NHL and the NBA require every team in their respective leagues to hold all of April, May and most of June for playoff games and championships. There are exceptions for teams with no chance of making the postseason, but since opening in 1999, at least one of Crypto.com Arena’s three tenant teams has always made the playoffs. MGM Grand Garden Arena has no sports tenants.
The Recording Academy typically needs 12 to 14 days to build the production, and the Academy’s 2019 contract accommodates the nearly two-week stretch by having the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers and the NHL’s Kings take extended road trips while the Recording Academy is using the building. The contract also extends the Academy’s right to sell Crypto.com Arena’s suite inventory, which earns the academy approximately $5 million annually, sources tell Billboard. According to tax documents from 2017, the last year returns are available covering the Grammys in Los Angeles, suite sales were almost 40% of the $12.8 million in total Grammy ticket sales the academy generated in 2017 at the LA arena. That additional revenue is likely even more important this year, following a scaled-down, no-audience ceremony at the nearby LA Convention Center in March 2021, but even in a big city like Los Angeles, there are not many options.
The Honda Center in Anaheim has a tenant NHL team and faces the same availability restrictions. The Forum in nearby Inglewood is busy with seven concerts on its calendar that month including three Billie Eilish shows, and does not have suites. The new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood where the NFL’s Chargers and Rams play, and where the Super Bowl is scheduled for Feb. 13, is available in April or May as a potential temporary home for the Grammys, stadium officials confirm, but at 70,000 seats — compared to about 20,000 at Crypto.com Arena — it’s probably too big and cost prohibitive for the arena production.
Even in Vegas, finding a venue isn’t easy. T-Mobile Arena has about 50 suites and would serve as an excellent host venue for the Grammys if it weren’t home to the first-place Golden Knights hockey team who are expected to go deep into the playoffs and contend for the Stanley Cup.
AEG also owns 50% of the MGM Grand Garden Arena, which will host concerts by Andrea Bocelli, Bad Bunny and John Mayer through March with no concerts or events booked in April or May. The Grand Garden Arena and its no frills concourse and black box interior isn’t nearly as posh as Crypto.com Arena. It has played host to massive sports and music events like the 2015 Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight and Phish’s annual Halloween concert series.
The MGM Grand Garden Arena has hosted the Latin Grammy Awards six times from 2014-21. It also hosted the Academy of Country Music Awards 12 times from 2006-19; and the Billboard Music Awards 17 times from 1997-2019.
If the show is held in Las Vegas, this would be the first time a Grammy telecast has been held in a city in which the Recording Academy doesn’t have a chapter.
Since the first live telecast in 1971, the Grammys have been held in Los Angeles 39 times, in New York 11 times and in Nashville once (in 1973). If the Grammys do land in Las Vegas, it would also be the first time the Grammys have been held outside of Los Angeles since the show in January 2018 was held at Madison Square Garden in New York.