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T-Mobile Arena timeline
The T-Mobile arena, as it is now known, was originally conceived in early 2013 as a joint venture between MGM Resorts and Anschutz Entertainment Group, or AEG. Large projects in Las Vegas have a history of stalling out due to funding, engineering redesigns and yes – politics, so when it was rumored Las Vegas would be getting a new Arena, people were naturally a little skeptical. The T-Mobile Arena was actually designed and approved fairly quickly. By the end of 2013, the designs were finalized and the process of choosing the general contractor and sub-contractors had begun. The Arena broke ground in May of 2014 and was opened in April of 2016.
The bid and award process for the electrical products
Las Vegas hotels, casinos and attractions are some of the largest and most complex projects in the world. The locals often say, “ In 1000 years when they are excavating the Las Vegas Area, archeologist are going to be very confused when they uncover pyramids, volcanos and castles”. The contractors in Las Vegas are some of the best available anywhere, and they have seen everything. Choosing the right contractor comes down to not only price, but experience and the ability to perform. The same holds true for suppliers. Only a handful of electrical contractors in Las Vegas are capable of handling a project such as the T-Mobile arena, so the list of qualified electrical contractors was short. Ultimately, Mojave Electric, a long time player in Las Vegas, was awarded the contract to install the electrical products in the Arena. Choosing the electrical distributor was the next step. Las Vegas has several good electrical suppliers, however only a couple have the products and experience to handle large complex projects. Schneider Electric purchased some of the naming rights for the Arena, so naturally they were the preferred supplier of the incoming switchgear. ATI Electrical Supply is an authorized Schneider Electric distributor, and was thought to be the only distributor of the three authorized Schneider Electric distributors in Las Vegas that has the technical product knowledge and project management experience to do the job. ATI’s competitive price coupled with project management experience made them the natural choice. Mojave Electric, knowing the complexity of the project would require an experienced distributor, chose ATI as the electrical distributor for the switchgear.
Large projects, especially casinos and arenas, require a wide variety of products. For the Arena, the incoming power consisted of several 15KV primary substations containing a 15KV primary switch, a medium voltage substation transformer, and a secondary distribution switchboard. The distribution switchboards which are of I-line construction, feed several Square D NQ, NF and Powerlink intelligent panelboards. These panelboards distribute power to low voltage (below 600V) dry type transformers, the extensive lighting system, motors and motor controls for the stages, air conditioning units (a must in Las Vegas!) and sound systems. The products together make up the distribution switchgear. In all, the distribution switchgear cost well over $2 million. Multi-purpose arenas also require specialty products such as Power Assemblies’ line of company switches and entertainment cable assemblies. ATI has a great working relationship with Power Assemblies, and they were able to supply these products adding to their value.
Putting ATI’s 25 years of project management to work
Large commercial construction projects are inherently complicated. They require extensive knowledge of all the products involved, a good working relationship with the factories and the ability to make quick decisions. Product knowledge, relationships and confident decision-making take years of experience. They also often require several sets of drawings and specifications to be submitted and approved prior to releasing the switchgear for production, and most factories take several weeks to prepare submittals. ATI, having the expertise and equipment necessary to generate drawings through programs such as AutoCAD and SOLIDWORKS can cut this time down to a few days, which is critical to keeping the project schedule on track. Overall, the Arena project went very smoothly with the exception of a flood that originated from some broken pipes that caused water to leak into the medium voltage switchgear. Water and electricity is a bad combination, so the switchgear had to be replaced quickly. ATI’s project management expertise and ability to aid in the design of electrical switchgear, helped get the replacement equipment in place in a relatively short amount of time, and keep the project on schedule.
On April 8th, the T-Mobile Arena opened in April 2016 and is now the home of the Las Vegas Golden Knights NHL hockey team, concerts and events such as the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC).