What’s There To See At The Las Vegas CityCenter Park
Since CityCenter opened and actually spent time thinking about planning the spaces between hotels, rather than just trams and escalators to bypass one for the next, the evidence of the “filling of the gaps” in between neighboring properties, especially those owned by the same company, has grown explosively. First came the Linq, connecting the Flamingo and IP-Quad-Linq hotels with shops, a remade O’Shea’s, dining, and the world’s largest observation wheel. Subsequently, Bally’s garden entrance became a mini-mall of shops called Bally’s Grand Bazaar Shops, a maze of meandering stores that helps bridge the space between one CVS and the next.
But not to be outdone, MGM developed its own version of the Linq. But whereas the Linq failed in some ways (and still is no doubt losing money on its signature attraction, the High Roller), MGM had the foresight to take the same idea and anchor it with something that would be most definitely prosperous, a brand new arena that could build off the popularity of the Grand Garden Arena at MGM Grand in both sporting and concert events. And with this anchor as the grand plan, The Park was born, and on my recent trip to Vegas during a severe bought with the hangover demon, I got to explore this little piece of open space nestled between New York New York and the Monte Carlo.
One distinction to make between the other ideas and The Park is that unlike the Linq and The Bazaar, the road to Monte Carlo was not closed, and therefore the majority of The Park runs adjacent to a two lane road leading to the Monte Carlo’s main port cochere. Starting just Under the NYNY marquee, all of The Park’s tenants are in essence built into the side of NYNY’s building, The Park itself, in literal terms, extending outwards from a wall of mostly dining along with the occasional retail. MGM was smart in picking the anchor tenant, the first west coast showing of Shake Shack (hungover review pending), which has proven to bring a crowd in day and night keeping The Park’s front bustling.
But unfortunately it seems that from there The Park really begins to lose steam because of either a lack of draw or a lack of attraction. Sure on nights when the arena is used the place is packed with entertainment and people meandering towards the show and the open air music acts that will play on the plaza in front of the arena before the show. (Author’s Note: IF you stay at Monte Carlo and get assigned to this face of the hotel on a concert weekend, immediately request a room change away from that side of the hotel, trust me.) But on days like we were there, a fairly busy Saturday, the park goes from Shake Shack busy to dead before you hit the plaza.
Landscaping In Vegas
While there are other places to eat, a BBQ joint, sushi and sake, etc etc along the park, the real interest and draw that MGM was going for was to recreate, in their own way, a tribute to the landscape Vegas was born out of. Giant flower-like sculptures (that I question are solar collectors) dot the space like clusters of weeds. Angular patches of planting create seating areas and spaces throughout the clear areas of the park. There is a rather generic water feature on the rear end of the space that gives white noise, a welcome sound. But the presence of two large water walls you walk through to enter makes one wonder if MGM is really cognizant of the fact that water is not a natural feature of the desert.
At the back is the crown jewel of this development, a flat bland pavement patch called Toshiba Plaza which affronts the new arena. It’s a sound nightmare, allowing all sorts of live music to bounce around off hard surfaces deafening hotel guests and visitors alike. That’s not to say the arena itself isn’t bad, it’s actually architecturally well done compared to many arenas. But while most of The Park seems to have been done to create an environment, which terminates in a slightly NSFW looking multi-story sculpture, the plaza annihilates immediately.
And that is The Park’s blessing and curse. It’s a perfect passageway to the new arena MGM has worked hard to build and bring use to, but otherwise it seems forgotten in the same way it connects to the arena itself. And that’s unfortunate because if it were a bit more Shake Shack and a bit less parking-lot-esque plaza, The Park could really be a place that could be enjoyed instead of being an afterthought while digesting a meal or hoping your ears stop ringing.
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