Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

January 3, 2010

Open Topic Discussion - January 3, 2010

Posted by detroit1051

CityCenter's architecture and architects are discussed in this Wall Street Journal article:

"At one time City Center represented one of the biggest, if not the biggest, source of billings in the U.S. for high-profile architects. One of the reasons for its enormous price tag was the premium MGM Mirage was willing to pay for design, which chief executive Jim Murren has said added hundreds of millions of dollars to the cost, compared to similarly sized projects. The company won't disclose what percentage of the $8.5 billion cost went to design."

After City Center, Architects Face New Reality
Over-the-Top Las Vegas Project Marks a Peak for Design Firms as High-Profile Jobs Fall by Wayside


Read archived comments (17 so far)
January 4, 2010 5:58 AM Posted by detroit1051

Toronto's Globe and Mail talks about the current challenges facing Cirque du Soleil, especially in Vegas.

January 4, 2010 9:43 AM Posted by mike_ch

Thank you for the article, Detroit.

Cirque's touring show OVO ran through San Francisco during my Vegas sabbatical. It's a bit like a mish-mash of Mystere and La Nouba with bug costumes which are more elaborate than the ones in KA's jungle scene.

I don't understand what the creative process is behind shows like Believe and Viva Elvis. Though Elvis is known worldwide (Criss Angel, not a chance) both focus on North American Anglo performers, which seems to be missing the point. People expect Cirque to be like some kind of avant garde French film that you speak with terms like "not for everyone."

I think Cirque has been tapped so many times now to fill casino showrooms that they simply must appeal to as wide an audience as possible and thus the creative energy has been sapped away. There was enough people interested in that sorta pretentious faux-French je ne sais quoi to put butts in seats at Treasure Island and Bellagio, but not four more hotels. There was enough demand for maybe one more of those interesting artsy shows and of course Wynn filled it with Le Reve, leaving Cirque more and more to making artistic variations on concepts that will be familiar to a Wal-Mart audience.

If it were me, I'd reduce it to Mystere (riding out it's contract anyway), Love, KA, Zumanity, and give the Elvis show two years to prove itself. Then invest some money into O with new acts and convince people to return after a break.

That means adios amigos to Believe, and if we're honestly going to do this Vegas Goes Broadway thing seriously, then I think instead of looking for a permanent show that Luxor room would be a good place to try and get Las Vegas included in tours. It's time for Vegas to try and pull tour stops away from Los Angeles and Arizona (I'd normally just say Phoenix but I noticed last month that Mary Poppins' tour was going through Tucson instead for some reason.) Casino executives have been really scared about offering people things they might have the chance to see in their own hometown, but if most of the visitors are coming from SoCal we'll probably just wind up taking SoCal's entertainment from them and telling them to come here to see it insead.

I'd imagine that MGM can probably offer a lower price, more seating, AND better advertising than most of LA's theatres of fine art.

January 4, 2010 11:14 AM Posted by Phil

I apologize if this article has been brought up before, but it offers a few tidbits on the Encore Beach Club.

Sorry to hear that Tropicana is tearing down the worlds largest Tiffany creation in their casino. Sure you have to move on sooner or later with upgrading your property and we all know the Trop needs it, but when its something known as the world's largest and something I would assume is incredibly expensive to recreate, you wish they could find another place for it.

Hitting some other sites I found these highlights:

Aria I-15 sign at night

Bunch of interior pics of the new Planet Hollywood Westgate tower

January 4, 2010 4:11 PM Posted by Scott

Typically design fees run 6-7% of construction cost, so even at $5bn construction, rest of the $8.5Bn total being soft costs (Permits,FF&E, etc) your looking at $300-$350m in design fees. Thats a lot of money disapprearing for these architect and designers

January 4, 2010 10:40 PM Posted by ooo000

I really appreciate the emphasis on design, but it seems to me that they could have tapped the creativity of lesser known architects for much less. Architecture is just like anything else, you're going to pay a premium for a brand name. I know you need to the names to build credibility, but I doubt 98% of their visitors know or care about who designed it. I'm sure there's plenty of hungry architects out there that would have jumped on the opportunity to prove themselves. Could have been an interesting angle to the project in itself.

Sounds cool and all, but it sounds alot like XS, Botero, and the existing pool arrangement out back. I've never gone to one of those silly cover charge topless pools, but Encore pool over labor day weekend certainly offered a lively experience and people watching (free for guests of course). I suppose this is just a reason to actually charge other people for the experience. Not a bad idea I guess, I noticed them turning alot of people away after asking for room keys.

January 5, 2010 4:28 PM Posted by Craig Negaro

I don't think that MGM is going to recoup those exorbitant design fees anytime soon. Aria is offering rates as low as $127/night with a $75 credit for a 2 night stay. Net $80ish/night. Can anyone say "financial disaster"?

January 6, 2010 7:27 PM Posted by Anthony

Cosmopoitan's pool deck will be "the first stainless steel tidal pool"

January 6, 2010 8:22 PM Posted by detroit1051

Isle of Capri is really getting aggressive. First, yesterday's Greektown Casino management agreement, and today, the possiblity of management contracts at four Station casinos.

January 7, 2010 5:50 AM Posted by mike_ch

Elaine Wynn has received half of Steve's shares in WYNN as a result of their divorce. Kaz Okada is now much more clearly the company's largest investor, with close to around as many shares as both Wynns combined, though because of a shareholder agreement they will still vote all these shares together in one vote totaling close to 40% of the shares.

January 7, 2010 1:46 PM Posted by detroit1051

Mike, I heard about Elaine receiving half of Steve's shares, but I never thought it through. How foolproof is the shareholder agreement you cited? Hypothetically, could Elaine and Okada wrest control of WYNN away from Steve?

January 7, 2010 3:21 PM Posted by mike_ch

Detroit: No idea. It's probably similar to the original agreement you can read at this link. Look for section 6 on page 11. However, things may have changed, because the original deal only agreed to board members and that if either side wants to sell or goes bankrupt, that the other have first choice to buy.

In particular, in Section 5:
"Other than the Stockholders Agreement described in Item 6, the Reporting Persons and Mr. Wynn do not have any other arrangement or understanding with respect to the acquisition, holding, voting or disposition of equity securities of the Issuer."

I think there's no doubt that Steve has lost power in this move, but to how much an extent is up in the air. Even in the best situation, it's possible that he could disagree to something that Elaine and Okada agree to and leave him with no choice but to either go along or do nothing and obstruct everyone's vote.

But given that Okada has basically been happily going along with everything that Steve has laid out so far, I doubt that will happen. The realistic view is that Okada will support Steve and he and not Elaine will run the show, while Elaine still holds the ability to obstruct their vote if she strongly disagrees with something.

January 9, 2010 6:57 AM Posted by detroit1051

Interesting 21 minute interview with Sheldon Adelson about Macau, Singapore, Las Vegas, possible future expansion plans in Europe. Vegas is discussed near the end. Adelson is blunt in saying that CityCenter is buying convention business,; they're giving it away
Doesn't mention Steve Wynn once. Look for video dated 1/8/10.

January 10, 2010 1:38 PM Posted by mike_ch

Strip resorts are kicking conventioneers out of the hotel suites they fully paid for. Well, I'm not sure how many resorts, but Take A Guess as to which property is named outright:

Given that corporate event business is down so far that Steve Wynn has been crying the blues about on and off the past six months, this probably isn't the best move for the future.

January 11, 2010 5:39 AM Posted by detroit1051

Barry Schier interviewed in LV Sun.
One quote caught my attention:
"Attract international visitors
Some foreign tourists have a greater propensity to spend money during their trip than Americans do — a gap that’s even more obvious with the national economy in worse shape than many others around the world. “About 8 percent of our business is international and we need to make that 20 percent,” which would bring Las Vegas closer to bigger, port-of-entry cities such as Los Angeles, Seattle and Miami, Schier said."

How can Vegas increase international visitors from 8% to 20% when many of the same companies are trying to get them to Macau or other new Asian gaming destinations?
I don't see Miami as a good example. Miami already serves as the informal financial and political capital of Central and South America.

January 14, 2010 8:52 AM Posted by detroit1051

Wynn "Cirque Decor".

January 14, 2010 9:57 AM Posted by mike_ch

I've always called it "gingerbread house," because all the moulding and frames and the little curly cues at the end of so many things often gives the feeling of walking through a giant gingerbread house.

My still unpublished Strip Walk talks about how I forgive Bellagio for so many things because it feels like a fancy European mansion (and how that feeling is slowly withering away,) and I don't know how the same visioneers went from that same old elegance thing to overwhelming whimsy, almost avante garde compared to Bellagio as it was at opening.

Maybe it's because Roger Thomas feels he doesn't have to prove anything now, but WynnLV walks the fine line between elegant and flamboyant very carefully. At Encore, I feel like they crossed it.

January 19, 2010 11:04 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I got my copy of Vegas magazine in the mail today, of which I am a retail subscriber, and started to wonder if they should make a deal to include a copy of WYNN with it when a new edition is published. I would think it would have great marketing potential for WYNN, and be a good investment. I put Vegas and WYNN out in the customer lobby of my business, and they are the most read magazines, by far. And I have 50 different magazine copies laid out for all kinds of interests.
Anyone here can help me understand better why this is not a workable (or good) idea?