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Top 10 facts and figures from MGM National Harbor casino

12 December 2016

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Move over, Capital Wheel, you've got company.

The illuminated 180-foot Ferris wheel, built in 2014 as part of the National Harbor development in Maryland, used to be the dominating landmark that would catch your eye on the way from Washington, D.C., onto the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which crosses the Potomac River and connects Virginia to Maryland.

That all officially changed last week when MGM National Harbor opened its doors and simultaneously took attention away from the Capital Wheel. The uniquely designed new casino sits on 23 acres just over the bridge on the banks of the river, about a 20-minute ride from D.C., and is likely causing many drivers to rubberneck their way by it as they cruise down 495 South.

Casino City was in the house last Thursday night for the unveiling of MGM National Harbor, and as we did the last time we attended a grand opening of a momentous MGM property, we present 10 facts and figures about the new venue that hosted tens of thousands of eager guests over the weekend.

10. 125,000 square feet
That's the square footage of MGM National Harbor's casino floor, making it the second-largest of MGM Resort International's 23 resort properties. It's behind only MGM Grand Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, which weighs in at 171,000 square feet.

The casino offers 3,300 slot machines, 136 table games, a poker room with 39 tables and over 40 TVs, an Asian gaming pit with 16 Macau-style baccarat tables, a high-limit lounge, and two hip luxury lounges called Felt and Blossom. The latter has a pink-hued design, is named after the flower that annually blooms in the area and is open 24 hours.

9. $299
That's the starting room rate for a guest room. The 24-story hotel features staggering views and has 234 rooms, averaging 400 square feet. There are 74 luxury suites, with light-colored woods and earthy tones, complete with state-of-the-art WiFi and Bluetooth technology.

A piece of art crafted by Bob Dylan sits over the entrance way of the casino at MGM National Harbor.

A piece of art crafted by Bob Dylan sits over the entrance way of the casino at MGM National Harbor.

Oh, keep in mind that the $299 is a starting rate. Prices, obviously, rise on peak times like New Year's Eve, where the same room will cost you $1,599 a night.

8. 3,000
That's the number of seats inside The Theater at MGM National Harbor. One of the marketing messages for the property is "Mankind was not born to be bored," and the list of entertainers already scheduled for this snappy venue, which includes seven luxury boxes, would make Caesars Palace in Las Vegas blush. Included on the list of acts are Cher (10 dates in March and September), Ricky Martin (5 and 6 May), Boyz II Men (15 December), Bruno Mars (27 December) and Kings of Leon (12 January).

The venue is also built to host comedy acts, boxing matches, UFC events and functions and meetings.

7. 25 and 15
That's the number of feet wide and high that the Bob Dylan artwork display that hangs over the entrance of the casino, just off the Potomac Plaza, is. More than 30 artists are featured throughout the 70-piece, $30 million MGM National Harbor Heritage Collection. The displays are found throughout the resort and are made up of everything from aluminum to clay to bronze to stainless steel, and include large-scale sculptures, paintings and chandeliers.

Dylan's piece, called "Portal," is an entrance archway comprised of "found objects" such as farm equipment, children's toys, wheels, axes and antique firearms, welded into a steel frame.

This is the first publicly exhibited sculpture from Dylan, the legendary singer/songwriter, who apparently has been providing similar gates and entryways to family and friends for more than three decades. Who knew?

6. Two
That's the number of tons of chocolate that will be flowing from the 12-foot, floor-to-ceiling fountain outside the Bellagio Patisserie. The fountain, which should be ready in January, will be similar to the one found at MGM sister property, Bellagio in Las Vegas, which at 27 feet is the largest of its kind in the world. Spoiler alert: If the chocolate that comes out of this creation is anything like the other treats we were fortunate enough to sample, Bellagio Patisserie will be one busy place.

5. 70,000
That's the number of blossoms found inside the 15,000 square foot conservatory. Found just below the main lobby, the exquisite space is another feature very similar to the conservatory at Bellagio. It was created by acclaimed designer Ed Libby and right now, in addition to the 70k blossoms, the "Holiday Reflections" theme features three 60-foot Christmas trees, white carnations, orchids and poinsettias. The conservatory theme will change with each season.

4. 4,000
That's the number of employees at MGM National Harbor. MGM Resorts International, which employs 72,000 people overall, is quite proud of the fact that not only do 2,000 of these employees call Prince George's County, where the casino sits, home, but 80% of them are from a "diverse background."

"That's what MGM Resorts is all about,"" said company CEO Jim Murren, who added that 67% of all MGM employees are minorities.

3. Eight
That's the number of restaurant options found inside the National Market casual dining area. In lieu of a typical casino buffet, National Market is like an upscale food court on steroids. The area has open seating and even has tables outdoors on a patio. The eight options run from the likes of Zizi's Pizza to Honey's Fried Chicken & Donuts to Amo Los Tacos. In the middle sits a very cool bar called George Washington Beer & Wine (yes, there is a ton of local flavor at MGM National Harbor), which has TVs and a great selection of craft beers.

Overall, the casino offers 15 restaurants, including casual options like Starbucks and Shake Shack. More posh options include Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse, designed like the home chefs Bryan and Michael grew up in Maryland, and Fish, Chef Jose Andres' place, which offers outdoor seating overlooking the Potomac Pavilion.

Speaking of F&B options, keep in mind when you visit MGM National Harbor that, because of a state law, drinks are not complimentary on the casino floor. According to a few cocktail servers we spoke to last week, this was causing mass confusion on opening night, so be prepared to dig into your pocket, or chip stack, if you want an adult beverage while gambling.

2. Three
That's the number of signature MGM bronze statue lions there are in the world, now that one resides outside MGM National Harbor. The other two can be found at MGM Grand Las Vegas and MGM Grand Detroit Casino. The statue at National Harbor is 18 feet tall (by comparison, the one in Vegas is 45 feet and the largest of its kind in the U.S.), with a five-foot mane and 11-foot pedestal. It took 2,400 labor hours to build.

1. $1.4 billion
Yep, as widely reported, that's the price tag for MGM National Harbor. The initial estimated cost for the project was $800 million, but as you can see from the above items, as the design and amenities were enhanced, so was the cost.

While that number may seem exorbitant, MGM is quick to point out that it is doing everything in its power to give back and play a major role in the community. In addition to the jobs created, MGM will spend $60 million to $80 million a year locally buying items for casino operations, and it's anticipated that $40 million to $45 million a year in tax revenue will go to the county.

"This is about creating an international destination that everyone will enjoy," Murren said at Thursday morning's press conference. "If we were simply looking to get our slice of the Maryland pie we would have spent $800 million, maybe $1 billion. But $1.4 billion means we're looking for Virginia, we're looking for the Mid-Atlantic region, we're looking for people to visit the capital and come here for a day or half a day.

"We worked really hard with local businesses. We've helped smaller businesses become larger. We've given a lot of people a chance. We've made a lot of promises, and we've kept them all . . . I hope you agree that we delivered on the promise to build a beautiful, sophisticated, monumental property on the banks of the Potomac that's here to serve the county."

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Best of Gary Trask
Gary Trask

Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT
Gary Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT