Sunday, January 28, 2018

Parking For Misfits Only

Well it's been a while since I did a post about parking in Vegas, hasn't it?  And since I know it's everyone's favorite type of post, I thought I'd do one today.

Let me interrupt myself to give a rundown on the current Strip parking situation, in case you have not been keeping score at home.  Every casino with a poker room on the Vegas strip charges for parking with the following exceptions:  Treasure Island, Venetian and Planet Hollywood.  If you consider Stratosphere on the Strip (I don't, to me, it's just north of the Strip), then they also don't charge for parking.  Neither does South Point but that's way south of Strip.  Note:  Wynn charges, but they will validate your ticket for free parking if you play 2 hours of live poker or buy into a tournament.

If Planet Hollywood not charging surprises you, well, their parking structure is actually not owned by Caesars (who owns the hotel/casino).  It is owned by the Miracle Mile Shops, that huge, circular shopping center that you have to walk 180° of to get from the garage to the casino. Apparently the owner of that shopping center understands the value of having customers access their business cheaply so they are encouraged to visit and have more money to spend on their actual product, not on a side profit center.  You know, unlike the owners of the casinos.

But don't worry, this really isn't another rant about having to pay for parking on the Vegas Strip.  I've said my piece on that on more than one occasion.  Besides, I have yet to pay even a dime for parking in Vegas. I've still been parking for free.  At least for now.  I know nothing lasts forever.  My current feeling is that the first time I actually have to pay to park in Vegas will be the last time I go there.  This post is more about the peripheral problems caused by the decision to charge for parking—and about the problems caused by the new T-Mobile Arena that opened a year or so ago.  Ostensibly, the opening of that arena was the justification for MGM to get the ball rolling on charging for parking.  After all, every sports arena in the country (over) charges patrons for parking at their venue, how could MGM be the first one that doesn't?

When they built the T-Mobile arena, located behind and between NYNY and Monte Carlo, there wasn't space to build a standalone parking garage for it.  So they use their nearby casinos' garages for parking.  And if you are going to an event at T-Mobile and pay for parking for it, you get charged more than if you were visiting the same casino to gamble or eat or whatever.

So they reserve spaces at the garages of NYNY, Monte Carlo, Aria, Excalibur and MGM whenever there's an event there.  Well the first two are pretty close to the arena, but man, you are in for a lot walking if you park at MGM or Excalibur  If I wasn't familiar with the area and paid $13 to park at MGM or Excal for the T-Mobile Arena and then saw how much I had to walk, I'd be royally pissed.

The real significance of this is that I have to plan out my visits to the corner of the Strip where the arena is located.  I've mentioned that I sometimes park at NYNY when I play at MGM.  But if there's an event at T-Mobile, I want to stay far away from NYNY—the garage will be a mess, traffic will be mess getting in and out, it's much better to just go to MGM—even though it is also used as a parking option for the event.  It's not as popular as the NYNY garage is for the event, and it's a much bigger garage in the first place.  It's messy, but not impossible to deal with.  But honestly, on nights when the T-Mobile is in use, I try to stay away from there entirely and play someplace else.

Which means that before I even arrive in Vegas, I go the T-Mobile events calendar and mark on my own calendar which days they have an event there (and what time, which is also a consideration). 

So, on the particular night in question, the Thursday before New Year's, I checked and saw that there was no T-Mobile event.  The next one wasn't until NY's eve—an afternoon hockey game, I believe.  So I could have parked at NYNY.  I should have parked at NYNY.  But since I wasn't planning on eating at NYNY (one of the main reasons I park there for MGM, the other one being that it really is easy to access the structure, much easier than MGM), I decided to park at MGM. 

So I drove down Tropicana Ave from the west and tried to cross the Strip.  As soon as I did I realized that something was going on.  Although traffic was fine before I crossed the Strip, it backed up immediately on the other side.  It was just the left lane—the one I needed to be in to turn into MGM—that wasn't moving.  Damn.  Something must be going on at MGM?  Or perhaps there was an accident near the entrance to the parking garage?

It added about 20- minutes to my travel time as I inched forward.  And when I finally turned into to entrance for the garage, there were parking attendants directing traffic.  Ugh.  You usually only see that when there is some kind of big event going on.  Although this close to NYE, I wondered if maybe it was just the NYE's crowd jamming everything up.

But no, that wasn't it.  When I finally got near the entrance gate, it was stuck on open, there were attendants right there at each gate (you usually don't see that) and there was a really poorly made, hand-written sign that said,  "Parking: $15."

The attendant was stopping every car and dealing with each one in some fashion.  I wasn't worried about being charged, I knew my gold MLife card would be good for free parking, but I was curious as to WTF was going on.  When I got to the gate, I volunteered to the young  lady that I was there to play and I showed her my gold card.  She said fine and even though the gate was open she put the card in the slot for me (so I would be registered and there and be able to leave normally, I presumed).  But I had to ask.  "What's going on here tonite?"

She said, "The Misfits are here!"

So of course I replied, "This is Vegas.  Aren't there misfits here every night?"

Actually, I only wished I'd said that.  I didn't think of it until five minutes later.

But she said "The Misfits are here" like I was supposed to know what that meant, and even that maybe I should be excited about it.

Will it shock any of you to learn that until that moment, I had never heard of the group, "The Misfits"?  I didn't think so.

Anyway, since traffic around NYNY was light and it wasn't on the T-Mobile calendar, I had to assume The Misfits, whoever the hell they were, were not playing at T-Mobile but were playing in the MGM Grand Garden instead.  For years big concerts and even sporting events were held in the MGM Grand Garden (which, conveniently, is in the MGM Grand).  It still exists but most of the events that in the past would have been held there have moved to T-Mobile.  Why The Misfits weren't playing across the street is anyone's guess, especially since the arena had been dark for a few days before this, was dark this night and wouldn't be used for a hockey game for another few days.

Perhaps The Misfits have a contractual deal with Verizon or AT&T and couldn't be booked at a place with the name "T-Mobile"?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Perhaps better.

The garage was much fuller than usual but I was able to find a decent spot on the fifth level.  But I knew instantly that I had made a huge mistake and exiting the garage at the time I most likely would was going to be a bitch.

On the way in, I saw the big billboard for the concert.  The Misfits had apparently sold out the Forum in L.A. and needed to book this extra concert for their fans.  Because the Forum is only like 300 miles away from Vegas. 

So from now on, I know that I have to also note events at the Grand Garden. So I looked at the calendar.  But the next event wasn't scheduled until February, long after I'd be gone, so this wasn't going to happen again.

I did notice an interesting sign for the concert.  Per request of The Misfits absolutely no cell phones or tablets or computers were allowed in the venue during the performance.  So maybe that's the reason for not using T-Mobile.  Perhaps T-Mobile didn't want to host a concert where cell phones were banned?  You know, because that's how they make their money?

Anyway, after playing poker I saw the casino was just loaded with Misfits fans exiting the concert.  The place was packed.  I waited inside the casino an extra hour or more before I braved going to my car, hoping the traffic would thin out.  Fortunately the club was open so I wasn't exactly bored sitting around inside the MGM.  But I guess I didn't wait long enough.  Even at 12:30am the garage was plenty busy.  And then, I saw that the traffic for exiting the garage was backed up all the way to the fifth level, the one I was on.  Perhaps it was even backed up higher.  The hell with that! Before getting in that line of cars, I backed up and found another way to get to the lower levels.  Once I got down to level 3 there was a parking attendant directing me to an exit.  It was actually the same exit I would have gotten to from the fifth level but I somehow managed to avoid the crowd.  I guess I kind of cut in but I was only following the attendant's instructions.  Yeah, that's my story anyway.

I still had to wait a good long time to exit.  There were three gates for exiting and all of them were backed up.  Again, the gates were stuck in the open position and there was an attendant at each gate.  They were taking turns letting traffic from each gate out to get to the actual exit onto the street.  The problem here was that traffic from the street was preventing people from exiting quickly. There were just too many damn cars leaving the same place at once.

Now here's the thing.  Once it was one lane's group of cars turn to leave, they all just drove through….no paying for parking, no putting in the MLife card to confirm free parking….no nothing.  Every single person who left the structure at that time just left without paying attention to any parking fee.  WTF?

I admit I have a perhaps morbid curiosity with how this whole thing works.  Was this somehow a "parking loophole"?  A way to get free parking if you knew about it in advance?

Here's what I mean.  I assume there were three groups of people using the garage that night.  People like me, who are entitled to park for free.  Concert goers who (if they didn't also have an upgraded MLIfe card) presumably paid $15 up front for parking.  And other people who just happened to go to MGM that night to gamble, go to the club, eat at a restaurant, whatever.  These are people who presumably didn't pay $15 up front because that's more than the normal $12 for 4-24 hours of parking would be.  So I'm assuming that they would have somehow gotten a ticket and then had to pay to get out.  Perhaps they pulled into the garage at 4pm before the attendants showed up.  Perhaps when they told the attendant they were just there to play so the attendant got the machine to give them a ticket. Whatever.

Now I did see a bunch of people trying to figure out the kiosks before getting to my car so I know there were people who had tickets and had to pay.  But once they got to the gates, they were given a free pass?  Well of course most of them probably heeded the signs that said, "Pay for parking before getting to your car."  But those gates also have ways to accept payment as you leave (credit card only).

So if you were waiting to pay at the exit gate, did you beat the system and park for free?  I repeat, there was no one or no closed gate stopping anyone from leaving and no one paid at the exit.

Not that I'm crying for MGM if some people got free parking that they shouldn't.  Of course not.  I just find it interesting.  I mean it's hard for me to believe that MGM management hasn't made certain that they squeeze every last parking dollar they can out of their customers.

Anyway, as a result of exiting the MGM without having to insert my MLife card, the next time I visited MGM, I couldn't use my card to get in.  It said something to the effect that I was already inside!  If I had tried to park at a different MGM property first, I might have been told I was at the wrong car park!  I had to take a ticket, but then when I used my card to exit, the balance of nature returned and all was suddenly right again in MGM's parking world. But that did make me wonder why the attendant I encountered when I entered the MGM bothered to put my card in the slot for me.  It just needlessly complicated things.  And backed up traffic getting in.

You know….like charging for parking in the first place.


  1. "If I wasn't familiar with the area and paid $13 to park at MGM or Excal for the T-Mobile Arena and then saw how much I had to walk, I'd be royally pissed."

    Good lord. For anyone without a medical limitation on walking, MGM or Excal to T-Mobile is easily walkable. You'd walk as far or further to concert/sports venues in most major cities.

    While on the topic, anywhere Mandalay Bay to Encore is walkable. in 12+ years of Vegas trips, never needed a rental car. But seems like many people just can't be bothered to walk 15 minutes to another casino.

    1. Spoken like a guy who's into running.

      I'm sure you've never heard this before, Grange, but #RunningIsStupid.

      As for walking, well I guess I'm prejudiced by years of having a chronic bad back which makes walking from the MGM poker room to the nearest Men's Room often problematic. But I did think as I was writing this that at menu concert/sports venues, parking could be a long walk. It's been a long time but I do recall you have a lot of walking to do to get from your car to your seat at Dodgers Stadium. So perhaps it's not so bad.

      "Walk 15 minutes to another casino"??? Half the casinos on the strip take 15 minutes just to walk from one end of them to the other.

  2. MGM DC has everything ready to start charging parking but fortunately it hasn't started...yet.

    1. Yeah, sorry to hear that, not surprised. Just today it was revealed that MGM is upping the parking rates for all their Vegas properties (second time since they started charging). A few people from your neighborhood tweeted about seeing the kiosks almost ready to be unleased at MGM DC

  3. The icing on the proverbial cake will be charging to use the restrooms. One price for taking a leak, another for taking a dump and obviously a penalty charge if you refuse to flush....

    1. That would be a real pisser, Lester!

      BTW....the morning after I posted this, MGM announced they were increasing the parking fees (for the second time) at all their Strip properties.

    2. Cripes.... the reasons to NOT go to Las Vegas continue to grow. I am more inclined to clone Lightning's New Orleans trip to play some pokers than go to Las Vegas again.

    3. Yep...if they can get me, "robvegaspoker" to consider not going back to Vegas any more, they're doing something very wrong.

  4. Rob I feel your pain ( remember Bill C ) I am now a grumpie old man. I was thinking of coming to the WSOP this summer. I was thinking of using Lift or Uber to get around town. Maybe just take hotel suttles like the ones at Gold Coast. This along with the resort fees are making Vegas how shall I put this less desireable. They are opening up a bigger new poker room at Thunder Valley in Sacramento. Still no parking fees. I guess I will have give up going to Vegas. Vegas does not care for me so I will move on. Such is life. Keep grinding Rob.

    1. Yes, Vegas is doing their best to drive people away, it's crazy. But then, maybe if you're going to go to Vegas and just play poker, they might not really want you to come.

      Honestly, I'm not even sure they want people coming to play table games and slots. They may only want people who spend all their money on food, shows, clubs, expensive hotel rooms and of course, parking.