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MGM plans 'The Park' outdoor shopping and dining district near future Las Vegas Strip arena

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Days before it breaks ground on a new, $350 million arena just off the Las Vegas Strip, MGM Resorts International has announced plans for a tree-lined outdoor shopping and dining district that will serve as the venue's grand entrance.

The casino company said Monday the 8-acre development dubbed "The Park" will feature casual patio dining, dramatic desert landscaping and long, water-wall-style fountains that will stretch more than 100 feet along the entrance.

"Beautiful public places are highlights of many of the world's finest cities, and Las Vegas shouldn't be the exception," MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said in a statement. "We are literally taking down the walls and opening the doors at our resorts to develop a unique dining and entertainment district that complements its lush new surroundings."

Park areas lined with mature trees and tall, tulip-shaped shade structures will flank Rue de Monte Carlo, a road running perpendicular to the Las Vegas Strip between the New York-New York and Monte Carlo casinos. The street itself will be reconfigured into a curving parkway that leads up to the planned, 20,000-seat arena, which is scheduled for a Thursday groundbreaking.

Restaurants set to open in The Park include the burger joint Shake Shack, gourmet waffle eatery Bruxie and the Japanese restaurant Sake Rok. The district will also feature a beer garden, a wine bar, the Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar, and Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row, named for the country music star.

The redevelopment comes as MGM is reworking the Strip-facing areas in front of the two casinos into a park-like promenade.

The full entertainment district is set to open in early 2016 in conjunction with the arena, a joint venture between MGM and AEG.

MGM is hardly the first Las Vegas casino company throwing its weight behind shopping and entertainment projects as gambling revenue stalls.

Earlier this year, rival Caesars Entertainment opened the outdoor shopping district LINQ, anchored by the 550-foot-tall High Roller observation wheel.

Caesars is also working on the Grand Bazaar Shops, a 2-acre, $50 million outdoor shopping district outside of Bally's Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. The development, which is modeled after Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, is slated to open in the fall.

Murren said the move toward open-air models reflects a shift in consumer habits. Patrons in the past stuck with itineraries; today's consumers do their own research, are more spontaneous, and will change plans to "find where fun people are at," he said.

"These resorts are very inward-facing. They were designed to try to be provocative, to get people inside and have them stay as long as possible," Murren said of the old setups. "By opening up these resorts, by creating a much more porous environment with outdoor and indoor spaces and experiences, you're going to attract a lot more people."

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