New York-New York officially launches outdoor plaza

It’s been less than a year since MGM Resorts International announced plans for a $100 million outdoor plaza that involves remodeling the Las Vegas Strip-facing exteriors of New York-New York Hotel & Casino and Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino. The company began construction on this pedestrian-oriented district in April 2013. It will eventually wind between both resorts to a 20,000-seat arena being developed in partnership with AEG.

Ribbon cutting for outdoor plaza at New York-New York

A green ribbon was cut by Cynthia Kiser Murphey, president and COO of New York-New York, to officially open the resort's outdoor plaza and entertainment zone.

On March 15, 2014, a green ribbon cutting ceremony was held to mark the official opening of the first phase of the park-like plaza at New York-New York. It was  followed by the release of 1,000 biodegradable balloons.

“Our customers and our community want to be indoors and outdoors,” said Cynthia Kiser Murphey, president and COO of New York-New York, “so we are creating the perfect place to party, to shop, to dine and to have a great time right out here under our famous Brooklyn Bridge.”

Many visitors were strolling into and out of shops – Stupidiotic, Swatch and I♥NYNY – on the Big Apple-themed resort’s now widened promenade, which runs alongside its 300-foot-long, 50-foot-high replica of the Brooklyn Bridge. Others were sitting at tables on the patios of Nine Fine Irishmen and Starbucks. All of these businesses are accessible from entrances on Las Vegas Boulevard and from within New York-New York.

Also present at the ceremony was a life-size Hershey’s Kiss. Hershey’s Chocolate World, an interactive attraction that will celebrate Hershey’s-branded products, is the only facet of the project still under construction at New York-New York. Kiser Murphey said its opening is expected “in late spring,” which in Vegas can mean as late as May (Memorial Day marking the start of summer).

Brooklyn Bridge entertainment zone

Following the ceremony, the fun kicked off immediately at both ends of the Brooklyn Bridge with a band taking the stage (above) and the Swatch Minutemen street team "flashing" their watches at passersby.

The outdoor plaza has a vibrant feel a bit reminiscent of pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods in New York City. The area was created by widening various parts of the busy walkway along the Strip from the corner of Tropicana Avenue to Rue de Monte Carlo. Numerous trees, shrubs and water features have been added. Large benches also spruce up the appearance of the plaza.

“These pavers that you’re standing on came from Europe,” said Kiser Murphey. “They’re all hand-laid. The tiles are part of the beautiful setting of our new entertainment zone.”

The “entertainment zone” features a stage that has been installed at the north end of the Brooklyn Bridge. There is room in front of it for crowds to gather and even dance. Following the ceremony, the Limey Bar Stewards got everyone rocking as the resort kicked off its weekend-long Celtic Feis celebration in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Celtic Feis events continue through today, read more here.

So far, the permanent outdoor plaza stretches in front of New York-New York, but there’s more to come. In addition to the shops and Hershey’s Chocolate World attraction at New York-New York, several new eateries with patios and walk-up facilities – including the Japanese-inspired grill Yusho, Shake Shack, Sambalatte and 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria – will soon debut at Monte Carlo, where a similar transformation is well under way. Double Barrel Roadhouse, which boasts a Southern-inspired menu, an array of beers and cocktails, live music and sexy bar girls, was unveiled earlier this month in a 12,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor space.

Completion of the outdoor plaza at Monte Carlo is anticipated by June/July 2014.

See photos of the ribbon cutting ceremony and get a look at the construction progress on the outdoor plaza being built along New York-New York and Monte Carlo below.

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I’m a Las Vegas native. By profession, I write at Mostly about the city’s hotels, but on other topics – gaming and transportation – too. I really love staying at hotels. And the ones here are among the biggest and best in the world. Some key things I’ve learned: Resort fees are inescapable (frustrating but true), a friendly attitude at the front desk may score you a great view and over-the-top room amenities – bath butlers, Japanese tea service, menus with “intimate” items – do exist. What else should you know about me? Well, I’m comfortable at a blackjack table. And I like eating late-night pancakes in hotel coffee shops. A lot. Follow Renee on Google+.