T-Mobile Arena: The Entertainment Venue of the Future by Populous

By iSportconnect | April 21, 2016

by Richard Breslin and Brad Clark

When you think of Las Vegas, most people think of the Strip, bustling casinos and a thriving nightlife. It is a city people visit to experience, not a one-stop destination with one particular casino or nightclub in mind. Tourists expect the best dining, entertainment and one-of-a-kind experiences when they visit Las Vegas. To keep this kind of social momentum going in Las Vegas, the design of world-class entertainment venues is a must and the latest addition is certainly no exception.

Enter T-Mobile Arena. Led by Populous, an industry leading design firm with more than three decades of arena design experience, T-Mobile Arena stands as the largest and most flexible entertainment venue ever to hit the strip. The entertainment venue of the future is now with T-Mobile Arena.

A diamond in the desert, the structure incorporates first-of-its-kind features with a design language that blends the over-the-top nature of the Las Vegas strip with the natural beauty of the surrounding Mojave Desert landscape.

To learn more about what makes T-Mobile Arena stand out in a city of iconic buildings, lead designer Brad Clark walks us through why T-Mobile Arena sets the bar for entertainment venues.


Las Vegas Authenticity

As the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas is a place most people might visit only once or twice in a lifetime. It was critical to our design team that the design and functionality of the T-Mobile Arena set itself apart from other arenas while also making for a memorable experience.

With many of the iconic buildings on the Strip standing as recreations of structures from thousands of miles away – New York, Paris, Venice – we wanted to create something truly of Las Vegas itself while bringing first of their kind features to the arena design front. A city centered on experience needs a premier space to house experiences.

T-Mobile Arena’s main entrance faces the Strip, presenting an expansive glass façade with LEDs that allow it to double as an evolving billboard. The rest of the exterior is composed of a glistening metal skin of various desert hues, reminiscent of the surrounding spring mountains.

  • – Local materials evoke the rocks, sand and canyon walls
  • – Gold striations, rust colors and quartz echo the natural geography of the region


Designing Forward

To continue with the forward thinking design of T-Mobile Arena, much of the focus was on the next-generation consumer. From the first ever tower club spaces to the expansive 9,000 square foot LED board; each piece of the arena contains something to draw in tourists and locals alike. “Experience” is the social driver of the moment, and the venue needed to be more than just a stage and seating. It had to be a space where people want to be, offering a variety of experiences that resonate with every demographic.

Studies show people are coming to Las Vegas less for the gambling aspect, but rather to experience the city as a whole. To capitalize on this, the arena accommodates performance not only within but also outside the arena walls. Two outdoor stage locations are seamlessly integrated into the flexible entry plaza design and a more dramatic elevated stage hovers under the massive entry canopy / terrace making for a spectacular pre and post-event live experience. The climate of Las Vegas is ripe for outdoor entertainment, and this exterior stage was designed to take the inside experience of Las Vegas and bring it outside.

VIP Visibility

For the arena interior, we wanted the focus to be squarely on entertainment and the fan experience while bringing something new and unique to the arena design front.   The idea of “see and be seen” goes hand-in-hand with the allure of “experience” and is a driving force behind connecting and sharing via social media.


To capitalize, we designed two dramatically cantilevered tower clubs overlooking the arena floor. These social spaces are the first of their kind, fostering social gathering for fans while simultaneously providing a world-class view of what is happening below. These high-end clubs are accessible to any guest and are bridged by the Hyde Lounge, which spatially connects the concourse to the bowl itself.

This open connection creates an indoor/outdoor feel, where a guest can take in the in-bowl entertainment in one direction while admiring the view out of the glass façade from the other. This space can also be closed off from the concourse to create a more intimate environment. To tie in the “high-roller” spirit of Vegas there are two uber-private VVIP entrances that whisk well-heeled guests from their limousines to the most exclusive courtside premium spaces within.

Each subsequent level features a design approach to differentiate it. Conceptually, the user experience changes as they move vertically, from desert canyon floor at courtside to the clear night sky at the uppermost Hyde Lounge – a natural progression as colors lighten and materiality changes.

T-Mobile Arena has something for everyone; visitors of all ages, interests and forms of entertainment. With a 20,000 maximum seating capacity, the largest the city has ever seen, the potential is endless. The floor is quickly convertible to accommodate a variety of events and each level offers a different experience. State of the art design, multipurpose functionality and authentic detail all combine to make T-Mobile Arena a true VIP experience, fit only for Las Vegas.


BradClarkBrad brings more than 25 years of focused arena design experience to the Populous team. As a senior principal of the firm and talented designer, Brad led the creation of extraordinary arenas and facilities including the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, KFC Yum! Center, the Orlando Magic’s Amway Center and the new Centre Vidéotron in Quebec City.

With a strong belief in place-specific design, Brad ensures that each facility he designs is responsive to the surrounding community, patrons and their history. In conjunction with his project team, he finds creative solutions to meet revenue generation goals and functional needs, resulting in unrivaled experiences for the end users.

Brad is highly focused on the design of arenas as anchor tenants for further civic development; his latest design in Milwaukee will allow the Bucks to leverage its site and pedestrian-friendly plaza to advance site-adjacent development. His comprehensive knowledge of the arena market makes him the go-to resource for emerging industry trends, providing a knowledge base that instills confidence in his clients. Complementary to his industry knowledge, Brad’s approachable personality enables him to build consensus with multiple project stakeholders, resulting in a rewarding and successful experience for those involved.

RichardBreslin_PopulousRichard Breslin is a Senior Principal at Populous and a Director of the Asian/Pacific office headquartered in Brisbane. Richard also sits on the worldwide strategic Board of Populous and is responsible for all of the firm’s projects in New Zealand and Australia.

Richard is currently leading the Populous team on the Darling Harbour Live project in Sydney in a HASSELL+ Populous joint venture. The $1B project includes the design of a convention centre, exhibition centre and theatre. He was Director in charge of the redevelopment of Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne.

In 1997, Richard began work with the team on the design of Stadium Australia (now ANZ Stadium), the main venue for the Sydney 2000 Olympics before moving to London where he worked on Wembley Stadium, and the design of the Soccer City Stadium in South Africa, for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He was also project leader for Populous’ successful master plan for the London 2012 Olympic Park.

In 2007, Richard headed home and led the teams on Eden Park redevelopment in Auckland and Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin in preparation for the 2011 Rugby World Cup

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