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Las Vegas' new T-Mobile Arena opens, with big fights and maybe the NHL coming

Las Vegas' new T-Mobile Arena opens, with big fights and maybe the NHL coming
Fireworks explode over T-Mobile Arena during the venue's grand opening celebration on the Las Vegas Strip on April 6. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

The smile of satisfaction from Dan Beckerman required no other words.

Beckerman, AEG's president, supervised the building of the new T-Mobile Arena here, a 20,000-seat state-of-the-art venue that opened Wednesday night with a concert headlined by Las Vegas rockers Killers and featuring the city's nightclub legend Wayne Newton, who offered "Viva Las Vegas," and "My Way."

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AEG, which built Staples Center, L.A. Live and London's O2 arena, partnered with MGM Resorts to build the $375-million T-Mobile Arena, which has immediately drawn a string of major concerts: Guns 'n Roses' comeback begins there Friday, George Strait and Garth Brooks are coming, and it's believed that Coldplay will ink a deal soon.

And with the ability to seat 5,000 more fans than the MGM Grand Garden Arena across Las Vegas Boulevard, T-Mobile Arena is landing big fights, starting with the May 7 middleweight title defense by Saul "Canelo" Alvarez of Mexico against England's Amir Khan. UFC 200, starring Conor McGregor and women's bantamweight champion Miesha Tate, is scheduled for July 9.

At the groundbreaking ceremony for the arena two years ago, another fighter was there to put a shovel in the ground: Floyd Mayweather Jr.

With Manny Pacquiao fighting Timothy Bradley on Saturday night at the MGM Grand, there's the potential for Pacquiao to produce a strong showing and make the case that if it wasn't for an injury to his right shoulder suffered last year in training camp, he could've put up a better fight against Mayweather in their disappointing bout last May.

Beckerman knows Mayweather, sees him often when the now-retired boxer attends Clippers and Lakers games at Staples Center, so clearly there's potential for a conversation.

"I'm not going to say Floyd's not going to fight again," Floyd Mayweather Sr., the boxer's father/trainer said Thursday.

He added: "If Pacquiao gets like that," saying he wants a rematch, ... "the only way I would do it then is the money's got to be deep. I mean deep, deep, deep."

Meanwhile, Las Vegas and Quebec City are the two finalists to land an NHL expansion franchise, with a decision expected in the near future. And the Kings announced Thursday they'll move their "frozen Fury" preseason event to T-Mobile Arena later this year, playing the Dallas Stars Oct. 7, and the Colorado Avalanche Oct. 8.

Even if the bid for an NHL expansion team fails, arena officials say there won't be a problem booking dates, with one maintaining that acts and promoters recognize the importance of the lavish arena, which Beckerman said was built by taking the best ideas of existing properties and improving, through trial and error, other aspects.

Beckerman said he understands the importance of acoustics, and as the Killers played "Read My Mind," Wednesday, he stood at T-Mobile's highest point, inside its upstairs Hyde Lounge, and marveled at the quality of the sound and the sightlines. T-Mobile was made steeper than Staples, in an effort to improve the fan experience.

"It's exciting for us to partner with MGM Resorts on a project like this that will transform the entertainment landscape in Las Vegas," he wrote The Times in an email. "T-Mobile Arena has quickly become a destination for the greatest sports and entertainment talent in the world."

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