The city has entered “serious negotiations” with a developer to bring an MGM Grand-operated hotel to Arlington’s entertainment district.
If a deal is struck, a 750-room upscale hotel could be built on city-owned land west of the Arlington Convention Center and north of Globe Life Park in Arlington. The city declined to name the developer, but sources at City Hall have confirmed that MGM Grand would operate the hotel and possibly the convention center.
Arlington has been seeking a developer to build a convention-class hotel and significantly expand the city-owned convention center since at least 2008, but a past search and subsequent one-on-one negotiations didn’t work out. Late last year, the city once again posted a request for proposals on its website. Only one firm reportedly responded.
Mayor Robert Cluck said Thursday that he’s feeling confident about the latest deal, which is expected to start with 750 rooms and eventually expand to 1,000.
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“I feel very positive. I think we’re closer than we’ve ever been. We’re having regular meetings,” he said, declining to name the developer. “The people we’re dealing with now are the real thing. This firm has built hotels all over the Metroplex. They do a first-rate job.”
Though the MGM Grand name may conjure images of the world-famous casino and hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, the company is opening hotels that don’t feature gaming, Yvette Monet of MGM Resorts public affairs said Thursday. One of the latest examples is the new MGM Grand Sanya in China.
“We have this great brand that everybody in the world recognizes. Why would we limit it to only places where they have gaming available?” Monet said.
A deal would likely involve financial incentives from Arlington, as well as a contract to operate the convention center, city officials have said. Additional details about the proposed hotel, which MGM has not publicly announced, were not available.
The Arlington Convention Center has lost business because of its limited meeting and exhibit space and a shortage of entertainment and hotel options for convention visitors, city officials have said. An expanded convention center with an adjacent hotel could help the city land larger meetings and conventions. The nearby Sheraton Hotel has 311 rooms.
“Arlington is a true year-round destination. This project will reinforce and expand our market position,” said Councilman Robert Rivera, a former chairman of the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Rivera said he believes that landing a convention-class hotel would bring additional tourism-supporting businesses to Arlington, including new bars and restaurants, retailers and even other hotels. “Although the hotel placement is in the entertainment district, this project will have a positive effect across all of Arlington,” he said.
An upscale hotel could also entice visitors attending events at Globe Life Park in Arlington, AT&T Stadium or nearby theme parks to stay the night in Arlington instead of leaving for Fort Worth or Dallas hotels.
“A lot of people would like to stay in a luxury hotel within a short distance of the convention center and the stadiums,” Cluck said. “Normally, during big events, people drive from Fort Worth or Dallas and come to a game or event for a few hours and then drive home. We don’t get much hotel benefit. That has been a very important missing cog. It’s vitally important we locate a group that can provide it.”
A few years back, Arlington rejected a $115 million plan by Highgate Holdings to expand the Sheraton hotel by 300 rooms and add 53,000 square feet of exhibit space, 10,000 square feet of meeting rooms and a 900-space parking garage for the convention center.
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639