After a boxing match yesterday (Mayweather vs. Maidana) at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, the crowd of more than 16,000 was startled by the sound of what was initially thought to be gunshots. The noise actually came from a temporary wall falling over, but it caused the crowd to panic and stampede for the exits, or any safe haven. One video shows people behind the serving counter of a restaurant, another shows people entering the media center through doors that swing toward the panicked crowd while staff tries to close the doors. 60-80 people were reportedly injured, with 24 people transported to the hospital. Without minimizing the injuries that occurred, this situation could have had a much more tragic outcome.
According to Eric Poleski, battalion chief for the fire department, 24 people were taken to local hospitals. Most were leg injuries, and those affected ranged in age from children to the elderly. The most serious injury was sustained by a woman in her mid 30s who suffered from a bad leg laceration.
Poleski confirmed that a stampede-like crowd motion had taken place, sparked by fans mistaking a loud noise for a gunshot.
The Grand Garden Arena access is usually slow-moving and crowded. The hotel was the sight of the Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield “Bite Night” bout of Nov. 28, 1997, though the stampede that night was in the hotel lobby.
Clark County Fire spokesman John Steinbeck said this morning that his agency arrived on the scene after receiving an emergency call at 10:45 p.m. reporting gunshots at the venue. In a statement released by Clark County’s public information department this afternoon, firefighters were called in to respond to a gunshot victim near the food court on the walkway leading to the Grand Garden.
There was no gunshot victim, and according to today’s release, “it was later determined that some sort of wall or partition near the Starbucks in the food court fell over, causing a loud bang. This occurred when the crowd from the Mayweather fight (was) leaving the Grand Garden Arena. The loud bang caused a panic, and multiple people were knocked down and trampled during the panic.”
According to Rogers’ report, Clarence “Bones” Adams, a past WBA super bantamweight champion, was among those helping collapsed people to their feet, and he described what he witnessed.
“All of a sudden we heard a loud rumble and people were falling,” said Adams. “There was no gun shot. But there was nothing that could be done with the people in here. They were all getting hurt. A little kid got trampled on, all the tables were getting turned.”
Rogers notes that the MGM Grand announced a new, $350 million arena this week, so perhaps that venue will have more fan-friendly ways to exit.
It appears this massive mishap could have been a lot worse than it turned out to be, but it is nevertheless a scary incident that left many people hurt and hundreds in harm’s way. That may prompt the MGM Grand to reevaluate its current design and make some tweaks to avoid similar incidents in the future.