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MGM Grand Garden Arena

Las Vegas, NV

Home of the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament 2013



MGM Grand Garden Arena (map it)
3799 South Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Pac-12 Basketball Tournament 2013 website

MGM Grand Garden Arena website

Year Opened: 1993

Capacity: 16,800

There are no tickets available at this time.


Local Information


The Grand Garden Arena

The MGM Grand Garden Arena is by far one of the most unique designations for a sporting event. Located in Las Vegas across from The MGM Hotel and Casino, which is located on Las Vegas Blvd. The Grand Garden Arena holds 16,800 fans and opened on December 18th 1993. The Tournament is four days long, starting on Wednesday and ending on Sunday. The first two days consist of 8 games. The semis are played on Friday and the championship game is held Saturday night, with a celebration before and after the game.

While the arena is mostly known for having boxing, UFC matches and concerts, its main entertainment is attached to the third largest hotel in the world, The MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. 2013 is the first year the MGM Grand Garden Arena hosted the Men’s PAC-12 Basketball Tournament. The MGM will be the main site for the tournament until at least 2015. Combining the luxury of the MGM Hotel and Casino with The Grand Garden Arena, this venue will soon become one of the go-to arenas for many sporting events.


What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

The food served inside the arena was only adequate but had several options. Don't expect the lines to move fast or even your food served correctly. Nacho chips came in a sealed bag and so does the nacho cheese, scissors are not included. Also when purchasing any beverage in a bottle you are not allowed to keep the lid.

One big perk about the arena is they do let outside drinks in. One can even bring a six pack in. All drinks though must be poured into plastic cups. Security at the entrance provides plastic cups to pour your outside beverages into. With Las Vegas' liquor laws, this is a really big plus for fans that already purchased drinks inside the hotel and casino and the arena provides a seamless way to incorporate those laws.

On the way to the arena there are many restaurants to choose from in the food court. Of course McDonalds and Starbucks are there for quick fixes. Wolf Gang Puck and Emeril's are also high end restaurants available.

Atmosphere    5

I suggest staying in The MGM Hotel as they provide a fun atmosphere during the whole tournament. Propaganda from the PAC-12 is displayed all throughout the parking garages, entrances and even lighting of the PAC-12 logo emitted from the floor. Banners hang from all the twelve schools heading toward the arena and passed through the food court. Las Vegas had a basketball town feel and so did the MGM. The Tournament drew a total attendance above 60,000 with celebrities and athletes in attendance; the most prominent being Pat Riley and Julius "Dr. J" Erving.

The lighting, sound and views for the arena are all amazing. The scoreboard seems huge compared to other basketball arenas and the sound is crystal clear. The arena comes with a wonderful four screen scoreboard with four side panels. There are also four individual big screens that are at the corners, suspended above the fans. Two screens will have the box score while the other two provide the same footage as the main scoreboard that hangs over center court. Clean shot clocks provide a nice updated look.

The seats in all of the 200 section are some of the nicest ergonomic seats I've sat in at a sporting event. Unfortunately the seats lower are a little different, seem older and can be uncomfortable at times. That being said, the best seats are four to six rows up and definitely refrain from buying tickets located in the corners of the 100 level as the foldable chairs are very uncomfortable.

Neighborhood    5

With the MGM located on The Las Vegas Strip you couldn't ask for a better neighborhood that provides many forms of entertainment 24/7. Walkways are attached from other hotels such as The Tropicana and New York, NY to MGM Hotel preventing having to wait for cars and walk signal signs. The Hard Rock Café is a walk away from the arena and provides a great history of music with an excellent restaurant with fast and friendly service. Freemont Street known as Old Town Las Vegas also provides free concerts and has many games associated with the tournament.

Fans    4

One of the great parts of the tournament is actually getting to sit with fans from other schools. It's fun to experience all the rivalries and chants of each school. Student sections are placed at the ends of each hoop, while fans of every school are scattered throughout the arena providing other fans knowledge of their schools and players.

Depending on the day or which game is played, the arena can seem empty but throughout the tournament the intensity picks up by the hour.

Access    2

Parking for the tournament and staying at the hotel is free and provided by MGM. This can be nice as you can leave your car there and hit the monorail or walk The Strip. It's recommended you arrive at least an hour early as it can be confusing accessing the arena. There are no shortcuts when it comes to accessing the arena. The architects and engineers of the buildings make you gravitate to the hotel and then send you through the casino floor in order to get to the arena. There is one other entrance to the arena located on the street level, but really can only be accessed if you're getting dropped off. The parking structure is quite a ways away from the arena and the small sidewalks make the trip a lengthy and somewhat frustrating experience.

Bottom line, it's going to take at least 15 minutes of walking to the arena, whether you're coming from your room in the MGM, headed over from another hotel/casino or parking outside in the parking garage structure.

Return on Investment    5

Being able to come and go as you please throughout games and sessions is what makes this venue one of a kind. During halftime you can go hit the slots, grab a bite to eat or simply wander and soak in the wonderful sights and feel of the casino. It was said many times by commentator of the tournament Bill Walton that he couldn't imagine the tournament being held anywhere else and wondered aloud what took so long to get the tournament moved to Vegas.

Extras    4

Valet parking is provided for free. Yes free valet, tipping suggested. Children are allowed on the casino floor when attending the games. There is a rule that the child must be walking and isn't allowed to stand and watch any gambling. If you choose to leave early during a session, you can turn your tickets into the box office for a taxable donation.

Free programs are provided on the PAC-12 website for download. One fanshop exists at the entrance of the casino and another before entering the arena. There is also a sports book located in the casino and is especially active during the tournament.

Final Thoughts

Judging by how well the first tournament went at the new site, as Bill Walton said, I couldn't imagine the tournament being anywhere else. The availability of gambling and drinking, especially with other PAC-12 fans is an experience a fan will never forget.

I had an easy time with booking hotels and flights at once with Bookit.com and for tall travelers like myself JetBlue Airlines seemed to have a lot of leg room.

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Crowd Reviews

Not a good place for basketball

Total Score: 2.57

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 1
  • RoI: 1
  • Extras: 2

The arena was not meant for a basketball crowd. Yes, you can bring in your own food and beverage, but that's almost a must with how it was set up. The food in the actual arena is expensive, and after dropping a lot of money to even get in in the first place, the last thing you want to do is spend six dollars on a terrible hot dog. And the concourse was so small and the bathrooms were so small that it was nearly impossible to get around the arena in between games and at halftime.

The fans were pretty good though, which is what you would expect from people that take the time to travel to a tournament, especially considering that there are no PAC-12 schools in the state of Nevada. But it was not very full for the most part.

Getting to the arena is an adventure. It's tucked away in the back corner of the MGM hotel, so you have to walk through the casino and past all the shops and food court to even get to the arena itself. And after a game, it would take forever to walk out because all the people come out of one set of doors to exit into the food court area. It was a mess.

That weekend in Vegas has turned into a great basketball weekend though, and I would say checking out as much basketball as you can is the way to do it. I just preferred the Mountain West experience over the PAC-12 experience. And everywhere you go in Vegas that week, someone has on some garb from their school, which makes the entire time that much more interesting and enjoyable.

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