How Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena Turned a Slow Touring Month Into a Cash Cow
T-Mobile Arena GM Dan Quinn explains how the venue has turned one of the slowest times of the year into a cash cow.
January can be a slow touring month for any venue, but the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas kicked off its 2020 with a bang, grossing nearly $18 million with seven engagements — $11 million more than the No. 2 venue on Billboard Boxscore’s Top Venues chart for arenas with capacities of 15,000-plus.The arena brought in its impressive haul thanks to a weekend of Latin music — the regional Mexican music event Dia Nacional de la Banda and KXOL (Mega 96.3FM) Los Angeles’ Calibash concert — that together brought in over $3 million on Jan. 24 and 25. In addition, the arena welcomed a sold-out Tool show, a date from country legend George Strait’s residency and a UFC Fight Night that grossed close to $11 million in a single night. T-Mobile Arena GM Dan Quinn explains how the MGM-booked facility pulled it off.
How did you turn Calibash, a Latin radio show, into an annual destination event for the arena?
With the success of the shows in L.A. at Staples Center, they created the Vegas version. What’s nice is that it has turned into an entire weekend play. While it is the third year of Calibash for us, it is the second year where we also did the Banda show. It’s a nice rock for us to put in the calendar — kind of an annual staple.
Does it take a package instead of a single show to get fans traveling to Las Vegas in January?
Vegas is such a good destination market. With all of our events, it’s definitely a one-plus-one-equals-three in that people are always looking for an excuse to come to Vegas. If we can package it together with great shows like that, then it becomes an easy decision for people to make the trek to our fine city.
What’s the demand for Latin shows in Las Vegas like?
The city does a really good job of maximizing marquee weekends, whether it is Cinco de Mayo weekend or Mexican Independence Day weekend [in September], which started off as a boxing weekend. Now, boxing serves as an anchor, and there’s an insane amount of Latin shows going on that week. Just in our three venues [T-Mobile Arena, MGM Grand Garden Arena and Mandalay Bay Events Center], I think we had nine shows in three days over that weekend. The entire city is programmed that way, with Latin shows at every major venue.
Since opening in 2016, T-Mobile has hosted 26 shows from George Strait. What has that residency meant for the venue?
It was a big gift for us when we opened the building. From a booking perspective, [having] three to four weekends of two sold-out shows is a great pillar to build around. It is great having a semi-exclusive. He doesn’t tour anymore. He doesn’t play a lot of dates in North America, period. We have become the destination play for that fan base.
Arena residencies are not common in the industry. Why did T-Mobile attempt one with Strait?
Only two artists have made this model work: George and Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden. It’s an interesting model, and it’s a tough one because you’re talking 30,000-plus seats every weekend we do this. We have to have an artist with that kind of draw, and there’s not many of them out there. Luckily, we have one of the greatest artists in the history of country music partnering with us.
This article originally appeared in the Feb. 29, 2020 issue of Billboard.