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All Articles for Category: CityCenter

Meeting the county imposed deadline today, MGM Resorts International is suggesting that the unfinished Harmon tower at CityCenter be imploded.

The Harmon was deemed structurally unsound after various construction flaws were discovered. This would certainly be a dramatic end to the long drama that's been unfolding since before the complex opened.

MGM is currently involved in litigation with builder Perini so this may take awhile to work its way through.

Are we looking at a full-scale implosion? Some sort of dis-assembly followed by more minor demolition? Either way, this is a major pedestrian thoroughfare so it sounds like a mess.

I'm sure Marquee Day Club is thrilled... With Cosmopolitan still struggling to find it's legs, taking that pedestrian walkway out of commission for what could be an extended period can't be good news.

UPDATE: Looks like they want to make this happen inside of six months.

July 15, 2011

Former MGM Boss Terry Lanni Dies

Posted by Hunter

Sad news from Jon Ralston that Terry Lanni, the former MGM Mirage boss, has passed away. Lanni had been battling cancer for the past several years. Our thoughts are with his family.

Lanni helped to shepherd the company two through mega-mergers: first with Mirage Resorts and then later, Mandalay Resort Group, creating the most powerful company on The Strip.

His tenure at the head of MGM was not without controversy. A confusing situation regarding his college degrees and the approval of the now-troubled CityCenter project marked the later parts of his career.

I never met Lanni but we did have a mutual friend and the word on Terry was that he was a class act.

More on Lanni:

- Las Vegas Sun
- Las Vegas Review-Journal

- 2008 Interview w/ Steve Friess

June 6, 2011

SIMPSON ON VEGAS #023: Examining CityCenter

Posted by Hunter

CityCenter has now been open for about 18 months.

This time around, Jeff looks at how things are going for MGM with their gigantic project.

Jeff's latest is a few random thoughts on MGM, Bobby Baldwin, and the renovation progress at The Tropicana.

Read on after the jump and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

May 4, 2011

April 2011 Trip Notes (Cosmopolitan, et al)

Posted by Hunter

Some notes from my trip, now two weeks past:

- Hotel: Stayed at Cosmopolitan and tried their lowest end room product, the City Room (which I believe is the only room offered with two beds). I took my brother along on this trip, who is 29. This was his first experience at the Cosmopolitan and he absolutely loved it. Everything from the design, to the room to the pool - right up his alley. It was interesting to see the place through someone else's (significantly less jaded) eyes.

- Cosmo: Generally, things went well. The room was clean and we got in right way. I visited the spa and while I appreciated the design, the attendant allowed towels and used cups to stack up all over the place and they didn't have any combs or brushes for your hair. Weird. In the casino, I was informed that none of the bars have Stolichnaya Vodka (they have flavors but not the normal stuff). It's such a common brand, that seemed odd to me as well. Service was pretty good throughout the resort. Friendly workers and lots of curious folks wandering the property. I didn't see a lot of gaming action.

- Food: Hit some places I'd already been or had been recommended to me: China Poblano (twice - so good), Tacos al Gordo (near Encore ; very good taco stand style - highly recommended. It seems their new Strip outlet was a surprise to some based on the Twitter reactions), Steak and Shake (South Coast ; was fun and worthwhile but the line was loooooong). Drinks at Sinatra where we had a long talk with the bartender - he'd actually served The Chairman long ago.

- CityCenter: Took my bro through CityCenter for the first time. He's an artist and really appreciated the work they've installed around the campus. He didn't care for The Crystals very much though ("this place is a disaster. WTF?")

- Construction: Ruffin is removing more of the TI lagoon to add a Starbucks and some sort of margarita debacle. The area being torn up is the southern tip, between the porte-cochere and the front of the hotel. Further down The Strip, the Tropicana is looking more 'finished' - less jarring moments as you move from a renovated part of the hotel to one that hasn't been touched. At Cosmo, Blue Ribbon was having it's floors replaced (it's since re-opened) - in talking to employees, it sounds like it was pretty dramatic when that pipe broke (I can't believe we haven't seen any random customer video). The Sugar Factory at Paris is just as ugly as I expected it to be.

- Sahara: Went by for what might be the last time. It was medium busy in the casino but the employees looked pretty sad and tired. Being in there was a bit of a bummer but I'm glad I got the opportunity to take some pictures.

- Crowds: This was a Tuesday and Wednesday night but it was crowded. There were people everywhere. Nice to see.

- Vegas Video Network's Pub Crawl: On Wednesday, I went to a taping of Pub Crawl at the Vegas Video Network studio. This was a lot of fun and if you're a fan of the show, you should consider it on your next trip. Everyone was super friendly and they're a laugh riot. Bring booze.

I took a load of photos. They're available here in case you want to see them.

A couple of great new choice Steve Wynn quotes in this RJ piece:

"They started CityCenter on all debt alone. It was luck they bumped into those guys from Dubai," he said. "They gave them $5.4 billion. It's gone. How could you lose $5.4 billion here, you've got to be an imbecile or a moron."

and also, on Cosmo:

"The place is worth $500 million," he said. "It will throw off $40 million to $50 million at nine times earnings. That's 10 percent of what it cost."

Oh, BTW - congrats Steve!

Read the whole piece here

This time on the show:

Mr. DeRuyter Butler, Executive Vice President of Architecture @ Wynn Design & Development is our special guest.

We discuss Cotai, Fontainebleau, his role at Wynn D&D as well as CityCenter and challenges of working in China. Plus, we find out that Sheldon has been giving us all the middle finger since 1999.

This is a 'don't miss' interview.

If you love casino design, construction and all the thinking behind it, check it out.

Check out the show:

Feel free to leave your comments below. If it's a question that you want asked on the show, please make that clear in your post. You can also send those to

January 16, 2011

Pocket Park: CityCenter Crown Jewel, Ripped to Shreds

Posted by Hunter

Big thanks to mofobes of This Ain't Iowa for posting a photo tonight of a disemboweled Pocket Park at Aria.

Huh? Jimbo's favorite part of the whole complex, all ripped to bits?

Perhaps just a little 13 month renovation? That is the normal schedule to renovate a resort feature, after all - we all know that.

Update: A few more photos:

December 4, 2010

SIMPSON ON VEGAS #010: 3-2-1 Cosmo

Posted by Hunter

The esteemed Mr. Simpson is back with his latest column. This time around the bend, he'll share his thoughts on the opening of the Cosmopolitan as well as discuss a recent stay at Aria.


Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin doesn't seem to think CityCenter was such a hot idea. Ok, that might be a bit of monday-morning-quarterbacking but he's also going out on a limb to say Cosmo is doomed, in his talk with Nevada journalist Jon Ralston.

He also revealed that his $1B offer for The Mirage was turned down by MGM's board just over a year ago.

Ruffin's typically one of the more restrained casino owners when it comes to making public comments. Interesting to see him coming out full on, including bashing President Obama.

That headline is a quote from Steve Jobs, to a Wall Street Journal reporter in 2004. A year or so later, Apple released an iPod that played video on a 2.5 inch screen. It's often cited as classic Jobs misdirection.

Today's article in the Review Journal about MGM tearing down The Harmon is likely the same sort of statement.

Sure, the building clearly has structural problems - it had to be capped at half of it's height - but to my knowledge there's been no final or official declaration that the resulting structure is inherently unsound, just MGM's attempt to extract a larger settlement from their builder and their builder's insurance company.

MGM says "it is unlikely the Harmon will be completed using the building as it now stands." That leaves plenty of SEC wiggle-room for some 'repairs' to be made to the structure after the lawsuits are settled. Why would they have even finished the building if it couldn't be salvaged? They knew about the problems at least twelve months and millions of dollars before it was sealed.

Jeff Simpson thinks that Fontainebleau might get fontaine-blown-up. That I can imagine. The Harmon, not so much. Unless the building is condemned by the county, I bet on that thing opening someday - furnished with the money that MGM wins from Perini for (allegedly) royally screwing up the project.

Until then, it's the most expensive billboard on The Strip.

It's been quite a week in Vegas-land. Hard to imagine that less than a week ago, we were reading a WSJ story that validated pretty much everything I wrote back in September about CityCenter.

From there, we were off and into conference calls, some of which included a few interesting tidbits. MGM told us that both Bellagio and MGM Grand will be getting room refurbs next year, while Steve Wynn explained that their Cotai development work was wrapping up and they'd start moving dirt around any day. The best part of that call was The Steve's ludicrous assertion that they're not secretive about their hotel designs - he practically laughed the questioner off the call. We'll see detailed models and drawings of Wynn Cotai just as soon as some inept outside designer posts them online, not because the company was feeling generous.

Speaking of leaks, they continue at Aria, where we've learned that they're working on a massive new signage package to lure Cosmo visitors and that they're even considering building The Strip's largest marquee. I've got loads of new CC stuff to share with you as soon as I'm done digesting it all.

That brings us to today, with the only piece of news this week that really surprised me - Wynn Las Vegas superstar Andrew Pascal has decided to leave the company, to be replaced with the reliable Marilyn Winn Spiegel (someone we considered as a VPP guest before we settled on the excellent Tom McCartney). What is Andrew going to do next? He's a young man, I can't believe that he's ready to retire.

Pascal has worked for Wynn for a long time but before this current stint, he was in Silicon Valley as Chairman of WagerWorks, a company that provided online casino games, playable for points. Is he headed back to tech? Chuckmonster is betting on Icahn but I just can't imagine that sort of transition.

Ichan's not really in hospitality, he's in hospitality finance - moving money around from distressed property to distressed property, a far cry from actually serving guests. Nope, I think for Pascal I'd put my money on a few months time off and then into some new entrepreneurial venture of some kind - more likely Silicon Valley than Spring Valley though. Maybe Aunt Elaine has eyes on angel investing - we know she can afford it.

What's more interesting is Wynn hiring a veteran Harrah's exec for such a tough job. The last HET (or should I say CZR?) alum to have the gig, Don Marrandino, didn't even make it to opening day. Spiegel is well regarded but the properties she's overseen for Loveman have very different guest satisfaction aspirations. Hopefully we're not in for a rocky transition just as Las Vegas starts to ramp up again.

Interesting stuff... In other news, I've been thinking recently about re-calibrating this blog and it's content. The landscape has changed dramatically since I started doing this and in a world where my time is limited, I want to make sure I'm spending it to do something that matters, not just be the second, third or fourth site to post on the same topic. More on this as decisions are made.

One last thing - if you haven't already, maybe go ahead and nominate this blog and my app Vegas Mate for The Trippies - you have three days left before they close. Maybe, just maybe, I'll be so pleased with being nominated that I'll spill a bunch of new juicy secret details about everyone's favorite massively overpriced, failing joint venture project.


November 1, 2010

WSJ Covers Tough Calls Made at CityCenter

Posted by Hunter

The Wall Street Journal has a new piece that dives deeply into some of the hard choices that the joint venture board has had to look at over the past few months as performance has continued to be elusive for the mega-complex.

WSJ: Rolling Dice on Giant Casino Complex (Registration Required)

One thing that does seem to be a bright spot - Aria's performance continues to improve.

I was personally there several times this weekend and volumes seem to be up. That said though, after visiting Blackjacker1979's SkySuite where the light bulbs flickered on and off and the music shut itself down to note an open door (incorrect), there are clearly still problems.

I'd expect CityCenter to market heavily to Cosmo guests starting in December, though one rumor I heard at Vegas Podcast-a-palooza sounded like a terrible idea: an advertising wrap on the Aria Pelli Tower. It would really be sad if it comes to that... How 'bout just building a real Strip marquee guys, huh? You could have the biggest one in town.

We're doing a Vegas Gang episode on Thursday so I guess I should just say thank you and leave it at that. This is great material.

Instead, I'm going to once again report on difficulty for MGM Resorts International - profits are still a Mirage - they just can't Wynn (get it?!? I'm so clever).

When a company does an early release of their financials and it includes several bullet points and a few paragraphs of figures, always read it in reverse. The most interesting stuff is always hidden behind a smokescreen of PR-speak.

The part of the company not infected with the virus that is CityCenter continues to deflate - down 13% for wholly owned operations (it was -16% last quarter). CityCenter may be a debacle but MGM needs the other places to keep the lights on.

As for Borgata, they did get an offer but it's below the amount they've been carrying on their books for the asset so they'll be taking a write-down this quarter to align their books with... well, reality. Will BOYD also have to do a write-down? I'd say probably.

When the Borgata thing is eventually settled, they'll not only get the cash from the sale but also their share of operations put into trust since the Pansy Ho debacle. That'll be one fat quarter when it hits but that's like when the drug dealer comes to your house and opens up his briefcase. He's not moving in, don't get too excited.

Say what you want about Borgata - and Atlantic City is certainly in trouble - but it is the top property there and has been helping to fill Jimbo's bank account every month. MGM may not have had much choice when it came to selling but that cash-flow is going to leave a hole of at least some size once the post-sale hangover wears off.

Interestingly enough, the day after we get news of improved Strip numbers (up 21%) for August, MGM reports taking an almost 10% hit in casino revenue for the quarter. How is that supposed to jive? This story cites baccarat as a bright spot but MGM's bac volume was down 6%. Does that mean that September cratered? Or were all these gains elsewhere? MGM still controls a huge percentage of the high-end bac play so this seems a bit odd.

As I previously wrote in my series on CityCenter, MGM is now going back to the markets for capital - they have loans of over a billion dollars due next year that they need to pay off. It will be interesting to see how much this influx of supply will impact prices on the open market. Much to the Swami's chagrin, stock was down 6% in after hours trading.

There is some good news, something else that I hinted at in my previous series - Aria is starting to swing over to the profitable side of the fence. It's had good volumes but this time around it got the hold percentages it needed to post a number in the black. ADR and REVPAR for Aria are both improving.

So I guess everything's fine...

Wow, this is just too funny. It seems that the unique construction of CityCenter's Vdara creates a parabola that focuses the sun's rays, right onto the folks using the pool.

One guy in the story claims it singed his hair and there are supposedly melted plastic bags to prove how powerful this thing is. Even the employees seem to be calling it a 'death ray'. Of course, MGM is trying to play it down. The name they prefer: 'solar convergence'. Ha!

I try not to link to RJ stories but it's the only place you can read all the details:

You can't make this stuff up.

On a more serious note, will this have any impact on condo owners trying to get out of their contracts? I could imagine an enterprising lawyer including this in their complaint.

September 12, 2010

Vegas Gang #51 - September 12th, 2010

Posted by Hunter

This time on the show:

Podcast-a-palooza - Oct. 30th, 2010. Be there.

* CityCenter CityCenter CityCenter
* Vegas Gang 'Sure Bets'

Check out the show:

Feel free to leave your comments below. If it's a question that you want asked on the show, please make that clear in your post. You can also send those to

This is the final part of a series about the problems that MGM Resorts International faces at CityCenter and how those problems may be impacting the important relationships they need to run their businesses.

Based on fascinating new insight into operations at the various CityCenter components, we dive deep into how the complex is doing and how bad things might get.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three - this post

Please leave your comments on this post.

This is part two of a three part series about the problems that MGM Resorts International faces at CityCenter and how those problems may be impacting the important relationships they need to run their businesses.

Based on fascinating new insight into operations at the various CityCenter components, we dive deep into how the complex is doing and how bad things might get.

Part One
Part Two - this post
Part Three - tomorrow.

Please leave your comments on this post.

This is part one of a three part series about the problems that MGM Resorts International faces at CityCenter and how those problems may be impacting the important relationships they need to run their businesses.

Based on fascinating new insight into operations at the various CityCenter components, we dive deep into how the complex is doing and how bad things might get.

The other parts of the series will be posted later this week.

Part One - this post
Part Two - Sept. 8th
Part Three - Sept. 9th

Please leave all comments about the series on this post. It's all after the jump.

Wow, this seems like it is a full on shooting war now.

Perini paid to have the following 11 page letter posted in the Review Journal, asking Governor Gibbons to open an investigation into the MGM Mirage / CityCenter payment dispute.

Trust me, you want to read this...

Perini is playing hardball on this one, no doubt. They recently told investors in their conference call that they intend to fight for every penny they believe they are owed.

UPDATE: MGM has responded. What's interesting is that they are now paying the subs directly, clearly wanting to diffuse that part of a potential public relations nightmare. Smart on MGM's part.

Without the contracts and supporting docs, there's really no way to make a call on this either way. My prediction that City Center would end up as a giant lawsuit seems to have been proven correct.

Today, MGM Mirage pre-announced their first quarter earnings, two weeks early. These are subject to change but let's be honest, they probably won't.

Why would a company pre-announce? Typically they have some information that is out of alignment with what the market knows and wants to give it some time to absorb. Often it's bad news...

Let's look at MGM's announcement - keep in mind that MGM Mirage only owns half of the CityCenter joint venture (the good half?)

MGM has always been very helpful in breaking out their results by property. Unfortunately, it appears that they are reporting their 50% of CityCenter's results as a single blob - no way to know Aria vs. Mandarin vs. Vdara vs. Crystals. Hopefully we'll get more detailed info in the real quarterly filing.

Compared to the year ago quarter, this time they don't have the benefit of the TI sale nor the insurance income from the Monte Carlo fire. Also, they had to write down the residential inventory at CityCenter, all of which hurt them compared to 2009Q1.

What is interesting - the CCJV netted $24 million from poor saps that abandoned their deposits on residential units. Probably can't count on that cash for 2011Q1.

CityCenter is reporting an operating loss of $255MM in the first quarter, though $171MM of that is a charge related to the write down of the residential inventory. Aria's loss is pegged at $66MM, though most of that is depreciation expense.

Did you spend time at Aria and wonder why you didn't hear your neighbor in the room next door? Chances are, you didn't have one:

"Occupancy percentage at Aria was 63% with an average daily rate of $194."

Ouch. That figure, 63%, is pretty darn low. That said though, the $194 isn't too bad - you wonder if they had lowered rates more if they could have boosted the occupancy.

As a comparison, in the first full quarter Wynn Las Vegas was open, it had an ADR of $264 and 93% occupancy... Granted, 2005 was a very different time for Las Vegas so even mention that here is probably grossly unfair.

Their non-CityCenter results aren't great either - Adjusted Property EBITDA for the wholly owned stuff is down almost 20%. Table games hold was down (it was at the high end of the range in 2009), though volume was up compared to 2009. REVPAR took another hit, to under $100 at $94.

Because of the charges and the prior year having the TI sale, they swung from $355MM operating profit to an $11MM loss. MGM Mirage has worked hard to pay down its debt and that's starting to show in the results as interest expense decreases.

So - tough quarter for MGM but they have some cash and borrowing available so they'll probably ride it out just fine. Hopefully in Q2 we'll see Aria firing on a few more cylinders - hard not to think that if this bleeding continues that they'll shed some additional service folks and degrade the experience for the guests.

Complete Release:

In other news, the company announced a private placement:

April 2, 2010

Vegas Gang #45 - April 2nd, 2010

Posted by Hunter

Vegas Gang is back!

Win an iPad! Details here:

* Station Casinos Re-Org
* CityCenter's First Hundred Days
* CityCenter vs. Perini
* Atlantic City Mini-Casinos
* Closure of CalNeva

Feel free to leave your comments below. If it's a question that you want asked on the show, please make that clear in your post. You can also send those to

March 29, 2010

CityCenter, Perini Begin to Slug It Out In Court

Posted by Hunter

The development of CityCenter was notable for all sorts of reasons - a massive, expensive new development on The Strip is always a big story.

By now, everyone knows about the problems, most notably what happened with the stunted Harmon Hotel tower. Well, it seems that since the project is now up and running, it's time for the lawsuits to start flying.

As the Sun says - it could get ugly.

Las Vegas Sands - Net Income: -$113.9 million (loss) Revenue: $1.28 billion LV Sun

MGM Mirage - Net Income: -$434 million (loss) Revenue: $1.45 billion LV Sun

Harrah's Entertainment - Net Income: $295.6 million Revenue: $2.09 billion LV Sun

Wynn Resorts - Net Income: -$5.2 million (loss) Revenue: $809.3 million More Info

Boyd Gaming - Net Income: -$1.0 million (loss) Revenue: $384.9 million More Info

This thread will be updated as other companies report.

February 25, 2010

Vegas Gang #44 - February 25th, 2010

Posted by Hunter

This time on the show:

* MGM's Aria - 2 Months In
* MGM Mirage Exits Atlantic City / Wynn Enters Philadelphia Market
* Greenspun / Station Casinos Relationship Disintegrates
* Lake Las Vegas Shuts Down
* President Obama's Remarks and Visit
* Harrah's Interested in The Palms?

Check out the show:

Feel free to leave comments below. Trivia questions can be sent to - we might use yours on the show.

February 23, 2010

Weekend at CityCenter's Arrghhhh-ia

Posted by Hunter

This weekend, hoping to break a long set-in case of the burnout blues, I decided at the last minute to head to Las Vegas. Some friends would be in town, it sounded like fun. Hell, I might even get to see the president (I didn't).

Continue after the jump for the rantings and raving of a madman.

January 14, 2010

Strip Walk - January 2010 - CityCenter Mega Edition

Posted by Hunter

Our own mike_ch is back with a 'mega' Strip Walk, including his first time at CityCenter.

As regular readers know, Mike is never short of opinions - you'll get his full take on the new MGM Mirage development as well as a boatload of photos.

This is a good one - you don't want to miss it. Enjoy.

Complete gallery:

December 31, 2009

Vegas Gang #42 - December 31st, 2009

Posted by Hunter

This time on the show:

* CityCenter Opens
* 2009 Recap/2010 Look Forward
* Gary Jacobs and MGM Mirage

Have a Happy New Year. We love you.

December 31, 2009

Vdara General Manager Responds

Posted by Hunter

A few weeks ago I wrote an open letter to Vdara General Manager Angela Lester about problems I had during my stay. I'm happy to say that today I got a detailed, point-by-point response from Ms. Lester that covers each specific issue I raised.

All service operations have missteps, especially brand new ones. The thoughtful response indicates that they truly want to fix these problems and improve quality. I appreciate her taking the time to respond in full.

As for if I will visit Vdara again - certainly. While I prefer gaming properties when in Las Vegas, a Vdara firing on all cylinders could be a nice alternative.

Ms. Lester's response is after the jump.

Happy New Year!

December 22, 2009

Serrano Serrano Serrano

Posted by Hunter

This is a short post about something I haven't been able to get out of my head. I had lunch at Julian Serrano inside ARIA this past Friday. Serrano is doing tapas at this joint, unlike the far more formal Picasso at Bellagio.

Wow. I can't wait to go back.

Not only is it open for lunch but given the restaurant's tapas format, it's super easy to try a bunch of different flavors without committing to one dish. In some way's it's the anti-buffet - small portions of the best food you'll ever have.

The shots of what I tried:

any my personal fave:

December 22, 2009

Open Letter To Vdara General Manager

Posted by Hunter

Both of my trips to Vdara were extremely problematic for me as a guest - stuff was broken, long waits, service issues, etc... I decided to write a letter detailing my experience to the hotel's general manager, Angela Lester.

I also decided to post the letter here, after the jump. If she responds, I will also make sure to post that as well.

I tried to be fair and this is not meant to embarrass the hotel but as a paying guest, this stuff shouldn't happen. Comments are welcome.

December 19, 2009

Mandarin Oriental - December 2009

Posted by Hunter

For my last night, I stayed at Mandarin Oriental... and am I glad that I did. This place is amazing.

Here are some photos:

I'll be writing and posting all throughout the next week with my thoughts - for now, I'll leave it at these!

December 18, 2009

UPDATED (AGAIN): ARIA Opening Is In Full Swing

Posted by Hunter

The coverage is rolling -

Also, I just uploaded 190 photos from inside ARIA to Flickr:

Got to sample some of the restaurant cuisine - so far great stuff. Lots of details to come but the staff here seem happy and excited - fun!

Update: Photos of two rooms at Vdara (I was moved to a suite due to 'issues').

Update 2: More photos of ARIA and opening night festivities:

December 12, 2009

Vegas Gang #41 - December 11th, 2009

Posted by Hunter

This time on the show:

* Dr. Dave Tours CityCenter
* Hunter Stays at Vdara
* Jeff Explains How Harrah's Can Buy P-Ho
* Fontainebleau Drama Continues

December 11, 2009 - Just Like Being There!

Posted by Hunter

I'm very excited to see ARIA open next week - after all these years and billions of dollars, it's like Christmas is coming early. Despite your opinions on the complex (and I expect them to vary a good bit), it's a ton of fun to see a new place turn on the lights.

Now, not everyone can be there in person - if you want to follow the action live, we've once again partnered with to build a special site just for you: On the site, you can easily see a special feed of our tweets, photos and videos.

For those that ARE going to be there, we need your help! Our new site accepts photo submissions sent to After being moderated, the photos end up on the site for all to see (there are instructions available if you want to see how it works). The person who takes the best photo, as judged by myself and Chuckmonster, will win a brand new iPod Touch and a copy of Vegas Mate.

It's gonna be a lot of fun and I can't wait to see the amazing photos you'll all submit.

December 11, 2009

Good Day, Sunshine

Posted by Hunter

A LVRJ article on the new trend (?) of sunlight being let into casinos:

Of course, Encore made a significant play for this and I think very successfully - parts of the casino are indeed flooded with light.

The author mentions CityCenter as an extension of this. My first impression walking through ARIA was certainly not that I needed sunblock. The casino is directly up against the porte-cochere glass doors in several places and light certainly spills in at the edges... maybe it's because the color scheme is mostly earth tones but it 'felt' dark to me.

There are certainly wonderful spots at ARIA, such as the main registration desk, the Harmon entrance and the entire promenade level, that are very well lit.

I hope this is indeed a trend that continues... Personally, I'd love to see a joint where the entire casino floor ceiling to be a skylight. Could be an amazing design feature, no?

December 9, 2009

Vdara Mini-Review: December 2009

Posted by Hunter

This past weekend, I spent one night at Vdara, the CityCenter condo-hotel the opened December 2nd. Can you really form opinions after one night? I accept that some will say no. I'll be back at Vdara soon but I wanted to share the good and bad of my first experience.

I do have sympathy for small glitches surrounding a brand new hotel - these things happen everywhere and I don't read too much into them unless they continue on subsequent trips.

December 8, 2009

More Time Inside CityCenter's ARIA

Posted by Hunter

I got a second chance to check out part of CityCenter's ARIA last week - I figured this would be a good time to share some of those thoughts.

The 4,004 room resort is the centerpiece of the project, including the only gaming space in the complex.

Continue after the jump for some additional thoughts...

December 7, 2009

UPDATED: No Push For Locals as ARIA Customers?

Posted by Hunter

This one was too odd not to post. Steve Friess has a blog post with a quote from MGM Mirage CEO Jim Murren where he says he doesn't really care if locals visit ARIA, implying it's the least important part of the complex (to him?).

This seems like an odd thing to say, the simplest reason being that ARIA has a killer spa, pool day-club and a bunch of high-end restaurants, let alone 150,000 square foot casino. It'll be interesting if he backtracks from this at all - almost sounds like it didn't come out right.

Update: It gets even better!

December 2, 2009

LA Weekly: CityCenter - Vegas 4.0

Posted by Hunter

I'm gonna assume you're not sick of CityCenter and want me to keep feeding you all the details... Here's another 4,000 words to keep you busy - Steve Friess writing for LA Weekly:

I got to talk to Steve for part of this story - it was fun. Lots of interesting stuff in there - check it out.

December 2, 2009

ARIA Opening Week Meetup Schedule

Posted by Hunter

Here's the schedule for meetups scheduled during ARIA's opening week:

15th 7:21pm Fontana Bar // Bellagio (or maybe somewhere at PHo)
15th 11:21pm Mandarin Bar // Mandarin Oriental (if we can get in)
16th 7:21pm Bar Vdara // Vdara
16th 11:21pm // GRAND OPENING
17th 1:21am CityBar // ARIA
17th 1:21pm View Bar // ARIA
17th 7:21pm Bar Moderno // ARIA
18th 7:21pm The Deuce // ARIA

If this looks oddly similar to this, it should. We're doing the meetups together.

More info about our coverage, including a chance to win a prize, soon.

December 1, 2009

UPDATED: Vdara: Some Photos and Opinions

Posted by Hunter

Dr. Dave Schwartz has blogged a bit about his walk through Vdara this morning. Also, his photos are available here:

Also, VegasRex has his own take, another interesting read.

I'll be at Vdara on Saturday to explore it more fully, along with The Crystals, before the big event in two weeks.

Update: Steve Friess lends some new pictures and thoughts about Vdara.

December 1, 2009

CityCenter: First Component, Vdara Opens

Posted by Hunter

Tomorrow morning, the first component of CityCenter, the Vdara condo-hotel, will open for paying customers. There's a party tonight that I'll unfortunately be missing - a charity shindig for the Sebastian Copeland Foundation.

Some info on Vdara and the Silk Road restaurant:

Thursday will see the opening of The Crystals retail mall and then Friday, Mandarin Oriental - this is a big week for the project.

One important aspect is traffic flow and the Sun has a story, with diagrams, of how it all works:

November 29, 2009

UPDATED: Jim Murren: The Man and His City(Center)

Posted by Hunter

A story in today's Sun delves into Jim Murren's thinking regarding the design of CityCenter. It's an interesting look at the process and gives more insight into the man, someone that hasn't had a well-defined public persona beyond the quarterly conference calls.

Murren talks about CityCenter inspiring people to create art - that would be incredible were it to occur. Perhaps a modern-day Renoir will be so-moved by slot machines - I'm a little skeptical.

The author, Liz Benston, makes reference to people that have described CityCenter as "a themed version of New York as envisioned by a Manhattan transplant". That's one of the points I raised in my write-up of the site tour. Sounds like Murren would match it more closely with master-planning done in places like Abu Dhabi - perhaps that is more apt but I think the basic premise still holds.

There are some nice photos with the piece, including the Crystals/ARIA pocket park, one of my fave places in the complex (and it sounds like one of Murren's too).

Vdara opens on Tuesday. Hard to believe that we're finally at the finish line!

Update: A related update - the LA Times has some interior photos, though mostly specific textures and related design elements including some stuff I saw and some I haven't yet seen.,0,853232.photogallery,0,37081.photogallery

November 25, 2009

ARIA Fountain Test ; Crystals Walkway Opens

Posted by Hunter

Some interesting CityCenter related photos and videos today.

First a tourist video of a test of ARIA's porte-cochere fountain:

Also, the overhead walkway and sidewalk in front of Crystals is now open:


I love big cities. I'd much rather ride a subway than sit on a beach. I love museums and cultural events, great restaurants and urban activity.

New York is one of my favorites. If I had to live outside the US, I'd probably settle in London. I've been lucky enough to see Cairo, Jerusalem, Rome, Paris, Chicago, Istanbul and much of the rest of the world. Great cities are complicated, charming, messy, crowded, contradictory... and wonderful.

MGM Mirage is trying to replicate the best bits of those experiences in a new project opening soon on the Las Vegas Strip - CityCenter.

This past week, your humble host was given the opportunity to tour part of this new hospitality complex - 67 acres at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, located between Bellagio and Monte Carlo.

My experiences on that tour are after the jump - enjoy. CityCenter will be a hot topic of discussion for months if not years. I can't wait until you all can share your own thoughts.

Update: We're not allowed to publish the actual map but Chuckmonster traced a copy and posted it on VT. This is the casino level and includes much of the stuff I saw on this tour. His version looks identical to the 'real' one. Enjoy.

November 20, 2009

Vegas Gang #40 - November 20, 2009

Posted by Hunter

This time on the show:

* Hunter Tours CityCenter
* Fontainebleau
* Global Gaming Expo 2009

I believe we'll have someone from MGM Mirage Design Group on a future episode, not too far away. Feel free to submit questions here.

We wake up to a story about MGM taking $1.1 billion in charges against CityCenter.

No big surprise, this is required by the accountants and no one could argue that the value of these assets hasn't fallen... though 31% is a big number. Kerkorian is even looking to potentially reduce his stake.

In other more interesting news, I was able to take a gander at a few shots of Aria's interiors (see Chuck's take here). I won't be publishing these photos but like VT, I'm happy to give my impressions.

Continue after the jump...

Update: Not to pimp this too much but this offer for Aria came across from MGM Mirage - $160 for some nights. 26584&m=0

Also, I'm happy to answer questions about the stuff I've seen, if you have any.

Chuck's spent some more time analyzing the materials and has some more thoughts.

October 1, 2009

Open Topic Discussion - October 1, 2009

Posted by detroit1051

Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Gaming stocks ended the 3rd Quarter with very nice share price increases. Now, what will happen when CityCenter opens?

Strip stocks stage September surge
LV Sands, MGM Mirage, Wynn Resorts rise

September 14, 2009

City Center Wins Some Green

Posted by Hunter

City Center isn't even open and it's already winning some green. By that terrible pun, I am referring to their LEED certification for Aria and Vdara, two components of the project.

This is a great thing - not only does the company get a tax abatement for up to ten years, it gets them a bunch of extra press and builds some additional excitement... plus, helping the environment isn't a bad thing either.

August 10, 2009

Exploring ARIA's Public Areas and Casino Floor

Posted by Hunter

One of the benefits of running a site like this is that from time to time, certain information comes my way before it hits the general public.

Most recently, this would include floor-plans of ARIA's public spaces and casino area. The hugely anticipated City Center anchor hotel, opening in mid-December, looks pretty great to my eyes.

In addition to being such a major milestone, ARIA is important because it is meant to be the crown of the MGM Mirage empire. The current occupant of that top slot, Bellagio, was designed and built by now-competitor Steve Wynn. MGM Mirage hasn't 'authored' a major Las Vegas resort for many years, its empire having been assembled through acquisition instead of development.

If you want some details about what is inside of ARIA, continue after the jump.

Here's the latest installment in our 'Strip Walk' series in which our intrepid reporter, Mr. Ch, visited several major Strip casino resorts in the heavy heat of Summer.

The photos are located here:

Continue after the jump for all the juicy details.

August 2, 2009

Open Topic Discussion - August 1, 2009

Posted by detroit1051

High rise condos are the subject of a story in the RJ. The concluding paragraphs summarize what many others have been saying:

"What is the end game for Las Vegas? Returning to its roots as an affordable and diverse entertainment destination, Nichols said.
"We became too much of the $500 bottle of vodka and multihundred-dollar room," he said. "We increased capacity at a higher price point when there was no demand for that. There's a direct relationship between price point and market share. If entertainment, rooms, and food and beverage get back in line, just like any service or commodity, that's when the town will rebound."

To read more:
High-Rise Plans Go Flat In Las Vegas

July 1, 2009

Open Topic Discussion - July 1, 2009

Posted by detroit1051

The Las Vegas Review Journal and Las Vegas Sun both have lead stories on Harmon's construction defects. The Sun is more informative and includes photos of the rebar in question as well as a link to the County complaints. What an appalling saga.

Harmon inspector lacked experience
At hearing, he said he read building plans in prior jobs only with help

Fascinating article today in the Sun about the fast-paced world of design and construction on the Las Vegas Strip.

Cost overruns and safety issues at projects like Fontainebleau and City Center have highlighted the massively iterative nature of the design process, sometimes at the cost of millions.

June 12, 2009

Strip Walk - June 2009

Posted by Hunter

Mike is back with a Strip Walk for June 2009 including Encore, Palazzo, Treasure Island, City Center and more.

As always, the photo gallery is here:

Click through to read more.

May 21, 2009

Vegas Gang #32 - May 21st, 2009

Posted by Hunter

Happy to be back after a little bit of a break. Lots to talk about, as always.

We discuss:

* MGM Mirage Pulls a Rabbit Out of its Hat
* Fontainebleau May Not Be Totally Screwed (we'll see)
* UNLV Center for Gaming Research Trends
* MGM Mirage Selling Properties

Feel free to leave your comments below. If it's a question that you want asked on the show, please make that clear in your post. You can also send those to

April 29, 2009

CityCenter Funding Plan Approved

Posted by Hunter

After a very anti-climatic afternoon which saw MGM Mirage shares stop trading ahead of the closing bell, we see this news that MGM and partner Dubai World have hammered out an agreement, along with the lenders, to make sure CityCenter is completed and opens later this year.

It appears that MGM Mirage had to put Circus Circus and its land up as a lien as part of this deal, if construction costs go over.

According to the WSJ, investor Carl Icahn and Oaktree Capital, a private equity firm, have been buying up MGM Mirage bonds and are pushing for the company to file bankruptcy.

More as it develops.

Update: WSJ link.

April 10, 2009

UPDATED: Dubai to MGM: Never-mind, Our Bad

Posted by Hunter

It seems Dubai World has floated a proposal in the drama that is CityCenter.

Hopefully you can read that (I will post a free link when/if I can) but it basically sounds like they're saying that all the parties should agree to fund the rest of the project - you know, kinda like the original plan they had when they struck their deal in the first place.

Under this plan, MGM Mirage, Dubai and the banks would remove some of the contingencies surrounding the final $3 billion (every time, this number seems different) in funding required to finish the project.

Also, a different story from the RJ about MGM Mirage about the banks letting them continue to go along alone, without DW:

March 26, 2009

When The Fun Stops: City Center May File Chapter 11

Posted by Hunter

Sources are telling the Las Vegas Sun that City Center may be forced to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy tomorrow, if they miss an important financial payment.

This is also being covered by the WSJ:

NOTE: This isn't a filing for MGM Mirage, just City Center LLC.

We'll see what happens here. It is unclear if MGM Mirage would be allowed to make the Dubai World part of the payment if they wanted to and if they did, it might not be in their interest to do so, even if they had the cash.

At this point, both companies are positioning themselves in a legal pissing contest for control of the project.

March 23, 2009

Open Topic Discussion - March 23rd, 2009

Posted by Hunter

We haven't had an open topic for some time so here goes...

One thing to kick it off: Dubai is suing MGM Mirage over City Center:

And the LVSUN:

March 14, 2009

WSJ: MGM Mirage Facing Breakup

Posted by Hunter

An article in the Wall Street Journal today discusses the possibility of more asset sales at MGM Mirage - perhaps enough that it may look more like a breakup of the company than just shedding a few hotel rooms.

(if that doesn't work, you can probably access through Google here)

While MGM Mirage shareholders might not love the idea of the best assets being sold off at potential fire-sale prices, maybe this would be good for The Strip and Las Vegas.

As others have said, when ARIA opens, will Bellagio suffer? If it had a different set of owners, they could compete head-on, full bore.

One thing is for sure - MGM Mirage has bet the farm on City Center.

February 23, 2009

MGM Mirage and Cosmo in Deutsche Wedding?

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to reader Anthony who pointed out this breaking story... It appears that the rumors may have some truth to them - this has been floating around for a few weeks without any substantiation.

It seems that Deutsche Bank may be looking to extricate themselves from the situation they find themselves in with Cosmopolitan by offering to help finance the rest of MGM's City Center project.

February 23, 2009

City Center Starts Taking Reservations for ARIA

Posted by Hunter

ARIA, the main hotel component at City Center, is taking reservations starting today. The first night for regular guests is December 17.

The Web site for bookings, which also contains some new renderings of the property and rooms is here:

Rates for opening night are currently at $299 (ouch) for what is normally a very very slow week in town. We'll see if those come down.

Reservations for Vdara, the condo hotel next to ARIA, are expected to open today as well [online here - thanks Mike P!] for dates starting in October. Not sure what it will be like to stay in what will still be a construction site in the delta between those two openings.

This is the first opening of a [ed: Las Vegas] hotel for MGM Mirage since the company was combined in 2000.

February 8, 2009

UPDATED: City Center Structures to be Re-checked

Posted by Hunter

After rebar problems at The Harmon went unnoticed, Clark County is requiring MGM Mirage to assure them and the public that the structures at City Center are sound.

This article in the Sun:

and another piece in the RJ:

detail the process. Perhaps the biggest issue isn't that errors were made - that happens on job sites all the time - but that they still can't figure out how it happened and passed the various, required inspections. That points to a possible systemic breakdown in the evaluation process.

Updated: A story in the LV Sun today titled 'Adaptation or 'disaster'?' discusses what the Harmon changes will mean for the project overall - a very interesting piece.

After a few weeks of massive rumormongering, it turns out something was indeed going on with The Harmon, the hotel and condo tower planned for the north end of the City Center complex.

The condo portion of The Harmon will be cancelled and the hotel will now not open until 2010, making it the last part of the complex to come online.

more from the LV Sun:

January 1, 2009

Open Topic Discussion - January 1, 2009

Posted by detroit1051

The new year's ongoing lead story will likely be CityCenter as it moves toward either completion or modification in 2009. The speculation about Harmon is followed today by Norm in the RJ raising issues about Veer:
"There are rumblings that MGM Mirage is close to announcing the status of the beleagured City Center project, including whether several buildings will be completed. There's talk that The Harmon, the Light Group's boutique condo-tel, with 400 hotel rooms and suites and about 200 luxury condominiums, will be delayed. The bigger concern, I'm told, is the central iconic tower, which was designed to lean about 22 degrees but is now almost double that because of a cabling issue. ..."

December 31, 2008

Vegas Gang #24 - December 31st, 2008

Posted by Hunter

Vegas Gang #24 is online.

This week on the show:

* The Trippies are announced this weekend.
* Encore Las Vegas Opens -
* MGM Mirage Sells Treasure Island to Phil Ruffin
* The Harmon / City Center / Light Group Parting Ways?

Leave any comments below.

December 3, 2008

Strip Walk - November 2008

Posted by Hunter

Mike_ch is back with his latest Strip Walk. This one is more in 'trip report' style as he was slummin' it down on The Strip for a few nights at The Grand.

It's a long one so grab a cup of coffee and sit back.

November 18, 2008

An Inside Look at City Center Construction

Posted by Hunter

The Las Vegas Business Press sent a reporter in to City Center to work as a construction hire for three days. The write up is here:

October 29, 2008

MGM Mirage Reports Third Quarter Results

Posted by Hunter

MGM Mirage announced their 3rd quarter results for 2008:


Profits are way down from the year ago quarter. MGM Grand Macau is doing a bit better and Bellagio had an unexpected uptick but generally, they're feeling the pinch as you can see in the figures.

October 25, 2008

Strip Walk October 2008

Posted by Hunter

Mike Ch is back with another Strip Walk. This one covers Encore, Treasure Island, City Center, The Mirage, Palazzo and more.

Photos are here:

Thanks Mike! Enjoy!

October 16, 2008

Vegas Gang #19 - October 16th, 2008

Posted by Hunter

Vegas Gang #19 is online:

This time around we cover:

* Plaza vs. Plaza
* Wynn Resorts Preliminary 3rd Quarter + Encore
* Harrah's + Chapter 11?
* City Center

Feel free to leave any comments below.

October 11, 2008

VegasTripping Covers City Center

Posted by Hunter

My good friend and fellow Vegas Gang-banger Chuck Monster from VegasTripping has been doing a bang up job covering what MGM Mirage has in store for us at City Center.

If you haven't seen these already, be sure to check out the following links:


City Center Tram:

ARIA Pool:

VDara Pool Deck:

September 30, 2008

Check Out Large Group of City Center Renderings

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to donnymac for pointing this out - a site with a bunch of renderings that I haven't seen, at least not all of them:

Once again, another StripWalk from MikeCh, this time covering South Strip properties (and a trip to the Hard Rock).

Continue after the jump to read the details, photos are here:

September 18, 2008

ARIA Restaurants Announced

Posted by Hunter

MGM Mirage has started to leak the info on the restaurants that will be built inside ARIA, the main resort at City Center.

Two takes on the line-up, which is heavy on big names and maybe a couple of great restaurants:

September 15, 2008

UPDATED: City Center Room Photo - Tech at Aria

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to reader Josh for pointing this out.

The LA Times has an article about tech at City Center's main hotel, Aria. The article includes a room mockup photo:

The full article:

Update: This MGM Mirage press release has more info on all the tech going into the room. Some of it sounds pretty cool, though I hope the Internet speed is a bit higher than 128kb that they indicate in the release.

Mike Ch is back yet again - this time with a boots on the ground report from Planet Hollywood.

Our man on the scene braved the Palace of Earl to bring back some first hand intel.

As always, photos are here:

Also, he linked up some photos in his post as well. Enjoy after the jump.

As an aside, I'm well aware of how bad the photo gallery sucks. I've not had the time to do much about it but I actually think that might change in the near future. Stay tuned.

The RJ posted a story in which they confirmed tips they had been sent regarding City Center construction workers having alcohol before they entered the job site.

Perini, the site's main contractor, has a zero tolerance policy regarding alcohol and drugs.

Construction safety has been highlighted at City Center due to the number of construction deaths since the project began.

August 5, 2008

MGM Mirage Q2 Profit - Down 69%

Posted by Hunter

Here's a story from the Sun on today's reporting from MGM Mirage on their second quarter:

Some properties, such as Bellagio, didn't do as poorly as some might have guessed. Executives seemed bullish on the future.

August 2, 2008

Open Topic Discussion - August 2, 2008

Posted by detroit1051

The New York Times has a long story on Steve Wynn, Las Vegas and gaming in Sunday's paper. It doesn't break new ground for anyone familiar with Wynn or the industry, but it's interesting. The highlight for me was reading that Steve is irritated by the sound of rushing wind in the elevator shafts. The writer must not be familiar with the old DI. She makes it sound like Steve Wynn bought the homes around the property in order to build a golf course. Yes, he did, but the DI always had a golf course.
Read the story here:
The Chips Are Down in Vegas, but Steve Wynn Is Betting Big

Mike's returning with a new Strip Walk. This time we see Fontainebleau, Encore, Echelon, City Center, Luxor and more.

Keep reading after the jump and check out his photos:

June 15, 2008

The Mirage, June 8-11.

Posted by Mike E

I took my parents for a three-night getaway at The Mirage as a combined Mother's and Father's Day gift. This trip was ultra-mellow by my standards but just as memorable as any other. Rather than the usual play-by-play, I've broken the report down in sections. Feel free to skip around to parts that interest you.

(More after the jump)

June 13, 2008

Vegas Gang #10 - Economic Woes to Bankrupt LVS?

Posted by Hunter

Vegas Gang #10 is up -

This episode focuses on the CityCenter walkout and the economy vs. Las Vegas. We cover a few stories on the specifics, including an entry suggesting that LVS is heading for Chapter 11. That may be an extreme outcome but its an interesting discussion point.

Also, a little bit on the iPhone and its impact on Las Vegas.

Enjoy the show and feel free to post your comments here.

UPDATE: Stiffs and George's has a story about Palazzo's underwhelming performance:

The Las Vegas Sun is reporting on a workers strike at City Center, MGM Mirage's large development on the Las Vegas Strip.

Due to a rash of construction deaths, the workers are demanding increased safety provisions be made before work will start again.

Update: It's possible that work will re-start again soon - it appears Perini and the trades had a positive meeting.

May 19, 2008

Details on "ARIA" - City Center's Anchor Hotel

Posted by Hunter

As speculated, the name 'ARIA' is official.

MGM Mirage's press release had a bit more info than I've seen published elsewhere. I don't usually just publish these things but I think this is of interest so continue reading after the jump.

May 16, 2008

LV Sun: City Center Will Open in Stages

Posted by Hunter

Despite the original plan to open everything in November of 2009, it seems MGM Mirage is now planning to open the complex in stages, starting August 2009 with the first condo tower and going through December 15, 2009 when the main hotel opens.

NOTE: They refer to the main hotel as 'Aria'. It's my understanding this name was scrapped. Also, unrelated - new Vegas Gang going up tonight.

Update: People on the Internets seem to think this name is correct. We'll see I guess. I don't really like the name, FWIW.

April 29, 2008

The Future Is Now At CityCenter

Posted by detroit1051

The LV Sun gives us a glimpse into CityCenter Casino's server-based slot floor. Will players be apprehensive about a casino's ability to manage the games, denominations, paybacks and players' comp accounts from a central IT office? Or, in this age when everyone, including seniors, are at ease with computers, will the benefits be welcomed? In my opinion, it will be a huge success as long as players don't believe the casino can manage payback with each spin of the reels. This concern can be easily managed with strict controls from gaming regulators and through effective communication strategies by casinos. What does everyone think?
Server- Based Slot Floor At CityCenter

April 8, 2008

Vegas Doom and Gloom From The UK

Posted by Hunter

A Las Vegas-is-gonna-go-bust doom and gloom article from the Times Online in the UK.

March 23, 2008

Open Topic Discussion - March 23rd, 2008

Posted by Hunter

Another open topic for discussion.

One thing of note - I got some photos from Mike_Ch which I published:

Thanks Mike!

February 21, 2008

MGM Mirage Project Jumps: CityCenter Sale, RevPAR Up

Posted by Hunter

Some info on MGM Mirage's quarterly results, announced today:

February 15, 2008

Open Topic Discussion - February 15, 2008

Posted by detroit1051

CityCenter: Selling A Dream
"The overall experience is sensually sensational, even elating -- you've clearly reached the aspirational apex of luxury and achievement. It's stimulating and soothing; you feel like you belong. For the moment.
But the view from this summit has a swift kickback, a shadow side. It might leave you feeling curiously deflated -- like maybe you've been living your life wrong all these years. Left out. A loser."
Behold, the tiny, beguiling future

The first episode of what could become a new, semi-regular podcast has been posted.

It doesn't yet have a name but the working title is 'Vegas Roundtable'. It's a gaming industry related podcast in a discussion format. Today's participants include:

Jeff Simpson - and

David McKee -

Dave Schwartz -

Chuck Monster -

Thanks to all participants. The podcast is in my normal feed for 'The Worst Las Vegas Podcast' but it will probably move to a dedicated feed. Also, if anyone can think of a good name, drop them in the comments.

If you don't subscribe to the feed and want the direct URL, here it is:

Mike_ch is back with another Stripwalk. This time he visits Encore, City Center, TI, Palazzo, Luxor and more. Check it out after the jump plus don't forget to check out the new photos:


Here we are with a special Thanksgiving-eve 'Strip Walk' segment. This time around, mike_ch checks out the Frontier, Encore, City Center, Luxor, The Mirage and more. Text after the jump...


November 14, 2007

November 2007 LV Strip Construction Photos Posted

Posted by Hunter

I've posted my Las Vegas Strip construction photos: Most Recent Las Vegas Photos

All sorts of great stuff including Encore's high and low rise buildings, WLV's villa atrium, Palazzo, the white tiger pit at The Mirage, City Center, P-Ho, Bellagio, and more.

The link above should show them all but you can also visit the November 2007 tag. Also, based on some feedback I plan to add new searching and sorting capabilities to the photo database soon.

Thanks to Mike for another installment of 'Strip Walk', or semi-regular feature that focuses on Las Vegas Strip construction progress.

Lots of great new info here and of course, we've got photos:

October 10, 2007

Inside The MGM MIRAGE Brain Trust: Jim Murren

Posted by Hunter

In Business Las Vegas did a fascinating interview with MGM Mirage President and COO Jim Murren last week. It is a highly recommended read that gives great perspective into the thinking that has driven recent deals with Kerzner, Dubai World and others.

It's clear that Terry Lanni and Jim Murren 'get it' when it comes to the biz side of the gaming industry - they are re-defining the standard practices that have been common knowledge in the industry. Business as usual? Not anymore.

From partnering with interesting companies to big ambitious projects like City Center in Las Vegas, they are bringing techniques that have worked well in the general hospitality industry to gaming and it seems to be paying off in spades.

Personally, I'd love to do an interview with Murren but MGM MIRAGE sometimes looks down on Internet media, even those of us with larger numbers than some print publications. I'm hoping one of these days these companies will wake up to that. They're not as bad as some companies but they could do better in this department.

September 27, 2007

Strip Walk: September 2007

Posted by Hunter

Well, you know the drill at this point. Another episode featuring MGM Grand, Wynn Las Vegas, City Center and more.

Photos are here: RateVegas Photos

This time we get a bonus video: Diablo's Cantina

September 24, 2007

Open Topic Discussion: September 24, 2007

Posted by detroit1051

"USA Today" profiles Terry Lanni:
"Throughout its history, Las Vegas has seen its share of legendary tycoons, from Howard Hughes to Steve Wynn. The low-profile Lanni flies under the public's radar, but he's one of the most-respected and influential forces in the $90 billion gaming industry.
"I've dealt with a few CEOs, and I'd have to rate Terry up there at the top," says Kirk Kerkorian, the 90-year-old owner of Tracinda, which held 56% of MGM Mirage's stock as of June. "I've always liked this company. We've got a hell of a team there."

Executive Suite: You can bet on MGM Mirage's Lanni

September 18, 2007

Bobby Baldwin Interview

Posted by detroit1051

Liz Benston interviews Bobby Baldwin in the LV Sun. He answers some of the questions we asked during our recent call-in podcast.

"He typically shuns publicity but was keen to address rumors that he might be leaving MGM Mirage - perhaps to join his old boss - after a management reshuffle. Baldwin would have been a natural choice for operations chief at MGM Mirage, a job that went to finance chief and CityCenter's chief idea man Jim Murren. Baldwin says he is impressed by Wynn's growth in Las Vegas and Macau but he's satisfied and challenged at MGM Mirage, at least for now.
The poker whiz from Oklahoma will retain control of CityCenter and the two adjacent resorts, Bellagio and Monte Carlo, while becoming chief visionary in planning projects along the Strip and beyond."

Q+A: Bobby Baldwin

September 16, 2007

Worst Las Vegas Podcast #17 - September 15th, 2007

Posted by Hunter

Our second time using and it was a lot of fun. Regular readers like Detroit1051, Mike E, Brian Fey, mike_ch and BarbaryKevin were all in on the action.

We covered a broad range of issues, from Cotai, Harrah's, Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Palazzo, Encore, IGT and a lot more.

During the show we talked about Chuck's Macau diary. That link is here:

September 13, 2007

StripWalk: September 2007

Posted by Hunter

Here's the latest Strip Walk, this time hitting Wynn Las Vegas, Trump Las Vegas, New Frontier, Palazzo, Treasure Island, New York New York, Excalibur, Luxor and more...

As always, the photos are here:

Commentary after the jump... Take it away Mike!

September 2, 2007

Strip Walk: August 2007

Posted by Hunter

We're back with another Strip Walk! This was written almost a week ago and this time around you'll get Mike's comments but a few of my own sprinkled in - I was in Vegas for one night last week and took some of my own photos as well.

As always, the photos are here:

Commentary after the jump...

August 22, 2007

Dubai To Buy 9.5% of MGM Mirage and Half of CityCenter

Posted by detroit1051

"Dubai agreed to pay $5 billion for a 9.5 percent stake in MGM Mirage and half of the Las Vegas casino owner's biggest development, bringing billionaire shareholder Kirk Kerkorian his biggest investment in the company."

This is huge news. There is a more in-depth report in the 8/22 Wall Street Journal for subscribers. The news troubles me, but Lanni and Murren haven't disappointed yet,

Dubai World To Buy 9.5% of MGM Mirage

August 21, 2007

MGM Mirage Shuffles Upper Management

Posted by Hunter

MGM Mirage made a few changes in the executive suite which they announced today.

First off, the extremely capable Jim Murren has been promoted to President and COO of the company (from President, CFO, and Treasurer). Murren came from Wall Street and is probably the most responsible for MGM Mirage being a model for other gaming companies to follow, especially when talking about reporting. Murren will also oversee all properties except for those that are part of the 'City Center Campus'.

Bobby Baldwin has been moved into a new position - Chief Design and Construction Officer. He'll oversee all new construction and capital improvements in the US. He also will oversee the 'City Center Campus', which includes City Center, Monte Carlo and Bellagio.

Lastly, Dan D'Arrigo has been promoted to EVP and CFO.

All of these positions report to Terri Lanni, the company's Chairman and CEO. Additionally, John Redmond, who had been running the properties formerly in the MGM family, including MGM Grand and NYNY has resigned as planned.

The press release is here:

Unrelated, Harrah's has scheduled an announcement for tomorrow regarding entertainment changes at their resorts in Las Vegas.

August 16, 2007

Strip Walk: August 2007

Posted by Hunter

Welcome to a new semi-regular feature, 'Strip Walk'. These photo updates from the Las Vegas Strip (and other parts of the Valley) have previously been presented by our man in the field, mike_ch. Well, now he's an official part of the crew and we're aiming to get these two you about every other work, time and schedule permitting.

His notes follow after the jump and the photos for this and future walks are here:


August 2, 2007

MGM Mirage Quarterly Profit Up On Property Sales

Posted by Hunter

MGM Mirage had a big quarter but a large portion of the ground they gained were from one time events - property sales in Primm and elsewhere.

Still, income from continuing operations was also up - the company is healthy and I still consider it to be one of the best run in gaming - a model for the industry in that regard.

Revenues hit $2.11 billion and earnings were at $360 million with those property sales factored in. Incoming from continuing operations was $182 million, up from about $140 million in the year ago quarter.

REVPar on the Strip jumped 7%. I hope to have property specific info soon.

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July 31, 2007

Open Topic: 8/01/07

Posted by detroit1051

"Exclusive Resorts today announced that it will develop and own 30 luxury condominiums at MGM MIRAGE's (NYSE: MGM - News) highly anticipated Vdara at CityCenter on the Las Vegas Strip. Vdara Condo Hotel, one of the $7.4 billion project's four residential towers, is set to open in late 2009."

I had never heard of Exclusive Resorts, but I sure fall short of its demographics. This is not your father's timeshare. MGM Mirage and Exclusive issued a press release on Exclusive's purchase of 30 units at Vdara. Membership fees run from $239,000-$459,000 with annual dues of $14,000-39,000.

Here's the release with a link to Exclusive Resorts site:
Exclusive Resorts Buys 30 Units At Vdara

June 30, 2007

Weekly Open Topic-June 30

Posted by detroit1051

Last week's topic had 64 replies, so let's start a new one.

Kerkorian's initial interest in acquiring Bellagio and CityCenter certainly helped MGM during the month of June. The RJ summarizes share price changes in June for operators and slot manufacturers. MGM leads the pack.
Kerkorian's bid boosts MGM Mirage

June 20, 2007

Kerkorian Withdrawing from CityCenter, Bellagio?

Posted by detroit1051

The 6/20/07 WSJ reports that Kerkorian will withdraw his plans to take over Bellagio and CityCenter. Since the original announcement, MGM's share price is up 37%.
Was this only a ploy by Kerkorian and MGM to get the stock moving? Regardless, imo, MGM is still in play to be taken private.

An announcement may also be made today regarding a joint-venture between MGM and Kerzner Inetrnational to develop a multi-billion dollar casino resort on the 40 acres at the Strip and Sahara.
Subscribers to the WSJ can read the story at:
Kerkorian's MGM Plans in Doubt

June 7, 2007

June 2007 Las Vegas Strip Development Update

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to mike_ch who is back with another Las Vegas Strip development/construction update.

The photos are here:

Keep reading after the jump!

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From Wall Street Journal

May 21, 2007 4:39 p.m. EDT
Tracinda to Enter Into Talks
With MGM to Acquire Bellagio
May 21, 2007 4:39 p.m.

Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp. announced Monday that it intends to enter into negotiations with MGM Mirage to purchase MGM's Bellagio Hotel and Casino and City Center properties.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tracinda said it also wishes to pursue strategic alternatives with respect to its investment in the world's second-largest casino operator, which may include financial restructuring transactions involving all or a substantial portion of the remainder of the company.

Tracinda currently owns 158.8 million shares, or a 56% stake in the Las Vegas-based company, according to the SEC filing.

Tracinda said it has made no decision with respect to any such restructuring transactions and reserves the right not to engage in or approve any transaction.

Shares of the company closed Monday at $62.89.

Updated by Hunter / Tuesday Evening: In an interview with Steve Friess, Bill Weidner from Las Vegas Sands indicated that his company might be interested in The Mirage and Treasure Island if MGM Mirage's properties were to be sold off individually.

Ok - this is getting a bit out of hand. Now, Weidner has actually expressed interest in those two properties in the past. I don't have a link but when the MGM/Mandalay deal was going through, everyone wondered if the FTC would require an asset sale to complete the purchase (they did not in the end). It was at that time he mentioned that LVS would be interested in buying The Mirage and/or TI to include with their portfolio. We know how that story ended.

Of course LVS is interested in The Mirage and TI - and not just a close approximation - these are places that perform very well and have a long established record. I was at The Mirage earlier today for dinner and despite it being a Tuesday, it was quite busy and doing well with occupancy. LVS would do well to score either property but it is so extremely unlikely that there's no point discussing it. Kerkorian's motivations are unknown but it seems more likely that instead of trying to raise cash through selling properties, he's either making a first step toward an LBO for MGM Mirage or it is an attempt to impose a valuation on the company that is closer in line to what he can see as MGM Mirage's rightful place in the market. The latter would be a particularly shrewd move and U'I'm sure we we will discuss these motivations more as we learn more.

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May 18, 2007

"Condo Craze Cools"

Posted by detroit1051

In Business Las Vegas has a story on the slowdown of new condo development in Vegas. The big exception is CityCenter which is still going strong with condo sales and is actually benefitting from the cancellation of "W" on Harmon. Buyers want the Strip!
"That success is evident by MGM Mirage reporting there are more than $1.1 billion in sales out of $2.7 billion in units it has on the market. Some 205 of the 227 residences at Mandarin Oriental have been sold. The Vdara condo hotel has sold 452 of its 1,543 residences and the two Veer Towers have written deals for more than 220 of its 670 condos, said Tony Dennis, executive director of CityCenter's residential division."
Condo Craze Cools

May 4, 2007

Reader Report: Bellagio April 2007

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to reader Aaron_B for providing this write up and photos from his recent trip to Bellagio.

His report follows after the jump and the photos, available at the link below, show off some of the recent construction work. You'll also see some comments on the new car rental facility at LAS.

Thanks Aaron!!

Quick note on the balustrade damage: I remember seeing some of that way back in May 1999, just after opening. I looked out my window and was surprised that it was already cracked.

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UNLV's Lied Institute for Real Estate Studies has released a report which says, "The marketing of sin that helps draws tourists to Las Vegas is an impediment in luring corporate headquarters to Southern Nevada....paints a pessimistic picture of Las Vegas' ability to recruit companies to Southern Nevada and diversify its economy beyond gaming."
The report is critical of some of the issues we've discussed here before, namely higher costs, unaffordable housing, poorly educated workforce, school system problems, lack of "cultural amenities", etc.
In Business Las Vegas summarized the report, but I've been unable to find a link to Lied's report itself. I'd like to read it in its entirety. I find the headline of the story a little over the top, using words like, "...image repels corporate relocation."

Do those here who either live in Las Vegas or frequently do business in Southern Nevada agree with the findings?

To read the article:
Report: Sin City Image Repels Corporate Relocation

The New York Times has an interesting article that covers the upcoming growth spurt in Las Vegas. A lot of general info for a mass audience but I did think the quote from Wynn indicating that this was the 'most over the top' expansion so far was interesting.

Is this a bigger game changer than milestones like the International, MGM Grand #1, The Mirage, and then Bellagio?

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April 20, 2007

MGM Mirage's Project City Center Steaming Ahead

Posted by Hunter

MGM Mirage put out a press release today updating folks on City Center's progress.

I've heard a lot of chatter from insiders about the project and from all accounts it is coming along quite nicely - MGM Mirage executives are very pleased with their progress. Of course, recent photos show the main hotel is really taking shape.

There's also news on some budget changes to the project - nothing significant and entirely expected for a development in this stage and of this scope. MGM Mirage is also putting pressure on sub-contractors to reduce some project costs and budgets and without that, the price would have gone up more than they are indicating here.

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Here comes mike_ch's Las Vegas construction update April 2007. This one covers Paris, Planet Hollywood/Aladdin, Bellagio, City Center, NYNY, Excalibur, Mandalay Bay and Luxor.

Thanks again to him for providing this stuff.

Photos are located here:

There are also some new videos, located here:

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From the agenda of Clark County planners, we have some insight into future projects. Here goes:

City Center - Not much, just a slight increase in the height of the towers from 543 feet to 580 feet. The FAA signed off and MGM is stating that they need the space for stuff like elevators and if residents want to put stuff on the roof (I assume satellite dishes, etc...). Also, the retail component is being increased from 650,000 square feet to 666,870 square feet. One interesting note is that Bellagio's holding company, Bellagio LLC, is the applicant - surely they have new holding companies for City Center - I would assume at least one per development for legal and financial reasons.

Wynn Las Vegas - Again, nothing major. They want to build a walkway from their Sands Ave. parking to the back of house area of the hotel, just for employees. The walkway does intersect with the monorail and the request states they will install a 'protective roof plate' to prevent falling debris hitting anyone. Ha.

Fontainebleau - Some details on the project, which is in review. The tower will be 735 feet high with 2,880 hotel rooms and 1,020 condos with kitchens. The tower sites on a low-rise podium with heights that vary from 81 feet (LVB side) to 175 feet on the convention center side on the back. Other than that, the details are few. They do have a batch plant on site at this time.

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April 4, 2007

City Center: Visiting the Sales Pavilion

Posted by Hunter

We all know the base genetics of MGM Mirage's City Center development - a mixed use project across 76 acres on a prime piece of Las Vegas Strip real estate. Multiple hotels, gaming, restaurants, retail and condos all coming together in an effort to master plan an miniature city.

The construction cranes are crawling over the property and the 4,000 room hotel/casino that will anchor site is up beyond the 11th floor. A live Web cam of the construction is on the official Web site. Also, MGM MIRAGE provided me with some photos and renderings of the project. Some may be familiar and others new.

I was able to tour the sales pavilion that has been a key tool in allowing MGM Mirage to almost completely sell out one of their condo developments (The Residences at Mandarin Oriental). Along with the tour some questions were answered about some of the other components of the project.

Keep reading after the jump for some more thoughts on what I saw.

online casino games

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February 27, 2007

Mike_ch's February Las Vegas Strip Construction Update

Posted by Hunter

Thanks again to Mike_ch who is kind enough to share his updates and thoughts on what's going on down on the Las Vegas Strip.

This one covers the Stardust, Bellagio, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, The Venetian, Palazzo, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Monte Carlo, New York New York, Planet Aladdin, and more.

Photos are located here:

Keep reading after the jump for the report.

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Today's newspapers have some interesting stories.

First off is the Sun with an article on Bobby Baldwin and the CityCenter plan. Some of the water and special features are alluded to here. A very interesting article. From this piece I can't help but think that pretty soon there will be way too many interesting resorts to really see Las Vegas in a single weekend anymore... if you can even do that still today.

Second is an article on implosion prep for the Stardust:

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January 19, 2007

Project CityCenter Sales Pavilion

Posted by Hunter

** I was originally scheduled to do a tour of the City Center Sales Pavilion this weekend. Unfortunately something has come up and I will be in California instead. Anyway, here's some info I got on PCC from MGM MIRAGE and I will re-schedule my tour. **

MGM MIRAGE opened the Project CityCenter Sales Pavilion in early January to showcase the various features of their $7 billion project. The center features models of several of the condo units, incorporating state-of-the-art technology to give prospective buyers an immersive experience.

The Pavilion is open daily, 10am - 7pm. Appointments are preferred but according to MGM MIRAGE staffers serious prospects can often be squeezed in. More info, direct from MGM MIRAGE, on the various units follows.

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Howdy folks! As a quick aside, I meant to do a podcast tonight but it didn't happen - sorry!! I'm shooting for the weekend and from then on, probably every 7-10 days. Thank you for being patient. There's clearly a lot to about.

I am planning on being in Las Vegas at the end the month, just for a weekend, to tour and document the progress at CityCenter's preview center - thanks to MGM MIRAGE for any access. From what I'm told, the preview center is amazing - I look forward to sharing with everyone... Expect photos to follow.

Regarding Wynn Macau, their 'Diamond Suites' project, located on the property edge near the future MGM Grand (with its neat/original curtain wall design), is a new hotel tower with the aim to up their room inventory as the company also looks into possibilities on Cotai Originally, Wynn Macau had something akin to a phase '1b', which was supposed to expand the casino floor, add a showroom and a new 'front feature', all to open in early 2007. This front feature is some kind of special effects room that Wynn says will 'blow us all away'.

Given that the public spaces are now going to be more aligned with the 'Diamond Suites' areas, they have been delayed until later this year. The 'Diamond Suites' tower is still 18 to 25 months out, though no specific dates have been announced. Some of the new tables and slots will open for the celebration of Chinese New Year, which is also coming to Las Vegas in a few weeks.

Ok, and last, MGM MIRAGE has new renderings of both CityCenter and MGM Grand Macau in their latest financial presentation. Very interesting shots that really show how the new buildings will interact with each and specifically "NOT" interact with neighbors.

MGM Mirage Financial Presentation 1/2007

I realize this was long winded - sorry. I hope everyone is doing well. Photos will follow in this space.

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January 1, 2007

Reader Trip Report: Bellagio December 2006

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to reader Aaron_B for this well written trip report from Bellagio. This is his first contribution so let's give him a warm welcome.

Also, if there's anyone else out there that would like to share a report, please feel free to send them to I cannot guarantee that it will be published but I will guarantee to read it and get back to you. I'm especially interested in reports from hotels that we don't cover as often (i.e. not Wynn Las Vegas, The Mirage, Bellagio, etc...) but that doesn't mean you cannot submit one from the above.

Some photos are also posted:

The report continues after the jump. Enjoy!

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December 19, 2006

Worst Las Vegas Podcast #11 - December 19th, 2006

Posted by Hunter

I'm finally back with another podcast! This time around I'm talking about my recent trip to Bellagio (which includes meeting up with several readers/listeners and author Dave Schwartz) as well as the big news of the day - Harrah's going private! On top of that I catch up with a few news stories from the last two weeks. Enjoy!!

Here is the link to the photos mentioned in the podcast:

A reminder - feel free to call in and leave us a message about anything Las Vegas or Web site related. The call in number is: 702-508-4232.

Direct RSS:

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November 30, 2006

Bellagio & Wynn, November '06

Posted by detroit1051

I checked out of a Bellagio Suite in the main tower this morning and have just unpacked in a Wynn Parlor Suite. I tried to start a report early this morning, but Bellagio's internet service was down all night and still wasn't up at 9 AM. I'll offer a few opinions now and then add comments later. After all, I want to enjoy Wynn.

This will not be a trip report, but random thoughts start after the jump.

November 26, 2006

Roll The Bones by David Schwartz - Book Review

Posted by Hunter

Roll The Bones is a new book by Dr. David Schwartz, the director of the Center for Gambling Studies at UNLV. His blog, is a great source for gambling information and news along with the ever-popular casino carpet gallery.

Dave has written several gambling related books in the past, including Suburban Xanadu, a study of the casino resort's evolution (this book features an in-depth look at Martin Stern, Jr., who's work we have mentioned several times in the past here on this site) and Cutting The Wire, a look at the Wire Act and Internet gambling.

You can buy this book here (and it supports this site in a small way): Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

Keep reading after the jump...

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This podcast includes some audio clips from my recent trip to Las Vegas. I talk about construction on Encore, CityCenter, Palazzo, Aladdin and more. Also, some special guests including Tim and Michelle from Five Hundy By Midnight and loyal contributor Mike E. We listen to a few messages from listeners (thanks for the theme song!) and even find some time to talk Vegas news.

Here is the link to the photos mentioned in the podcast:

A reminder - feel free to call in and leave us a message about anything Las Vegas or Web site related. The call in number is: 702-508-4232.

Direct RSS:

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I spent some time in Las Vegas this weekend (actually, a little more time than I had planned) and I wanted to report on my trip.

First off, I have posted construction photos of Encore, City Center, Bellagio renovations, Aladdin/Planet Hollywood, The Mirage (Japonais and Revolution), The Palazzo, and the pit that will become the Cosmopolitan.

I got to meet with a few readers/listeners, fellow podcasters and friends. I had a short chat with Elaine Wynn who is a real class act.

The photos are posted at this link, plus they are also in their respective categories:

More after the jump...

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October 27, 2006

Las Vegas Construction Update: 10/27/2006

Posted by Hunter

You guys have probably seen Mike's construction updates in the past. Well, we're turning them into a front page story as they are available... Thanks to Mike from all of us for providing this info and taking time out of his day to do this.

The body is after the jump but he's covering the following:

Wynn Las Vegas and Encore

Photos are linked and are posted to the galleries. The most recent RV photos can always be found here:

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October 22, 2006

BOOK: Roll The Bones: The History of Gambling

Posted by Hunter

I got my review copy of Dave Schwartz's new book, "Roll The Bones" today and I've started to read it. Dave is a friend of mine and I feel lucky to call him that. He's the number one gambling historian and author of several books. He works at UNLV as the Director of the Center for Gaming Research. His Web site is located here, which we are now proudly hosting for him:

A full review will follow when I'm done but so far, it's great. Anyone that's seriously interested in gambling should buy this book right now.

The link below is from and not only do you get the book for a great price, but we get a small cut of the proceeds, so you are supporting the site and getting what so far seems like a great book.

Ok, here goes: Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling


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October 10, 2006

LA Times on Macau and a New Rendering of City Center

Posted by Hunter

First up, I tracked down this image that is a rendering of CityCenter - looks more recent than most:

City Center Rendering - Oct. 2006

On an unrelated topic, the LA Times ran a story on Macau that is interesting, though not a lot of new ground:,0,319698,full.story?coll=la-home-travel

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September 18, 2006

Bellagio, CityCenter, Japonais

Posted by detroit1051

I attended a casino function at Bellagio last week. A few notes I made appear after the break.

MGM MIRAGE issued a press release today regarding a project with Cirque du Soleil based on Elvis Presley to be performed at the upcoming Project CityCenter. The entire text of the press release follows after the jump.

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August 11, 2006

Jockey Club Lucks Out

Posted by detroit1051 has an update on the Jockey Club. It will be renovated at Cosmopolitan's expense as part of a deal reached when Jockey Club permitted Cosmopolitan to build on its parking lot. The report says Jockey Club has more than 14,000 owners. This sure is a Win for the tired, old Jockey Club.

Details can be found at:
Jockey Club Renovation Funded by Cosmopolitan

Two bits of MGM Mirage news this morning.

First off, MGM has created a realty company to sell condos in City Center. The unique move will enable buyers to purchase direct from the developer.

More in the LV Biz Press:

And on David's Blog:

Next up, a press release talking about upcoming evening pool parties at TI. Honestly, the pools at all these hotels seems like a very underutilized nighttime asset.

The TI event is called 'Whisper' and runs Thursdays in August and Labor Day Monday, 6pm-11pm.

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July 30, 2006

CityCenter Architecture

Posted by detroit1051

Liz Benston, Las Vegas Sun, describes the dramatic towers which will serve as the gateway to MGM Mirage's CityCenter. I'm slowly becoming enthused with the project.

Read the article here:
Gateway to CityCenter

June 26, 2006

Project CityCenter Starts Cooking

Posted by Hunter

If you've been following the Vegas news over the past day or so, you will have noticed some new details on MGM MIRAGE's 'Project CityCenter' development, to be located between Monte Carlo and Bellagio.

We got the skinny from MGM MIRAGE and will summarize what we know after the jump.

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So, I'm in Vegas checking out what is new and different and instead of just writing a simple note I decided to record audio as I walked through the properties... So, I guess this is the first Two Way Hard Three 'podcast'. I don't plan on podcasting on any kind of regular basis, this is a convenience thing. It's not short at over 30 minutes.

Anyway, if you don't like to hear people complaining about stuff, this isn't the podcast for you. I listened back and a lot of it is negative - I like talking about how people are screwing up... You have been warned.

NOTE: I recorded this late, late Friday night. I just listened to it again (and edited a bit). It's a little crazy sounding at times, very stream of consciousness. I also sound a little tipsy (never!). Hopefully I won't scare anyone off... Enjoy. I am off to a top secret meeting. Will report back when I have something to report.

Our podcasts are available via the podcast RSS feed:

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June 4, 2006

Bullish on Las Vegas

Posted by Hunter

Liz Benston in the June 4th Las Vegas Sun has two bullish stories on future growth. The first is on increased investor interest in Las Vegas gaming and condos. The second report is on Cosmopolitan, going up between Bellagio and CityCenter.

Investment appetite for Las Vegas is hotter than ever.


May 29, 2006

Advertising Age Magazine on Vegas

Posted by detroit1051

Advertising Age has just completed a five part series on Las Vegas. The link will take you to Part 1. Subsequent parts may be accessed by clicking near the bottom, right side of Part 1.

>>So where does Las Vegas go with it? When does this model stumble
under its own weight? Not any time soon, if the record-breaking crowds
are any indication. But there's another trend at work on the Strip
that will drive the next evolution of Las Vegas, and that is real
estate. Last week's sale of the Tropicana Hotel at the south end of
the Strip offered a new opportunity to peg a number to what an acre is
worth here on the city's beachfront: $30 million.<<

Advertising Age Series on Las Vegas

According to multiple sources, including the The Strip Podcast and the Las Vegas Review Journal, the next Cirque de Soleil show will be at Project CityCenter and be based on the music/imagery of Elvis.

Ok... Another CDS show on the Strip? So far we have Mystere, O, Zumanity, Ka and now Love, not to mention Cirque-esque shows such as Le Reve and even Celine Dion's show. How far will this go? Can they keep filling theaters with new shows? Personally I think that moving to shows that are more grounded in a central theme/identity such as Love and whatever this Elvis show will be is a smart(er) move. I'm not an Elvis fan (though I'm a big Beatles fan) so I'm not that excited for an Elvis based show.

What do you guys think? Are CDS impenetrable?

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May 10, 2006

MGM Mirage Shareholder Meeting

Posted by detroit1051

The Las Vegas Review Journal reports on MGM Mirage's Annual Meeting. Terry Lanni made it sound almost certain that MGM will develop a CityCenter East in Atlantic City.

The most interesting comment was probably meant to be a joke, but if I were Steve Wynn, I'd be watching my back. Here is his quote:

"Lanni conceded Wynn has been ahead of MGM Mirage in Macau, but he said the time advantage will be short-lived.
"And who knows, next year we might even have the annual meeting at Wynn," he said."

To read the RJ's article:

MGM Annual Shareholders Meeting

The RJ also has photos of Boardwalk's implosion:

Boardwalk Razed

April 27, 2006

MGM MIRAGE Reports Quarterly Results: Profit Up 30%

Posted by Hunter

Today is a quarterly reporting day for MGM MIRAGE and report they did... Profits up 30%. They claim $135 million in savings from the combined MGM/Mandalay properties. I'll be listening to the conference call and updating this story as soon as I can - Windows Media Player is not cooperating at all.

Net revenues for the quarter were $1.9B and 'same-store' revenues were $1.2B, up 4% (they did 4% better even without the MBG acquisition). Occupancy stands at 97% (!) and the ADR (average daily rate, key indicator in hotel/leisure reporting) was $181 (up $5 from last year). REVPAR (revenue per available room - another key metric) was also up $5 to $175.

Quickly reading some of the detail, it looks like they wrote off about $24 million related to the Bellagio/Monte Carlo tram. This sounds like the tram is back out of service to accommodate CityCenter development. Eventually CityCenter will link the properties.

$380 million was spent on capital improvements, including CityCenter, The Mirage, Beau Rivage, and MGM Grand Detroit.


The Mirage will be the site of a new ultra lounge called 'Revolution', based on the Beatles and opening in the fourth quarter.

Supposedly the new Mirage restaurants are doing great and Japonais is scheduled to open in August.

CityCenter design for the main hotel is complete and excavation is underway. Foundations will be poured in about a month.

The Boardwalk demolition will take place on May 9th.

The new Bellagio parking garage (employees) is going to open in July.

CityCenter will have a sales center between Monte Carlo and NYNY and also 'discovery centers' in the lobbies of Bellagio and The Mirage.

Beau Rivage construction is progressing. Apparently the restaurants will be completely new, none of the old concepts are being rebuilt.

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For years and years, many travelers equated cheap rooms, shrimp cocktails and showgirls with Las Vegas. Hotel rooms under $100 per night were available all up and down the Strip - not just from the Northern cluster of older hotels. As recently as 1999 it wasn't uncommon to be able to book at room at Bellagio for $140/night on weekends.

No longer.

These days, rates for standard rooms have increased and former mid-level properties have been renovated and re-branded in an attempt to convert them to the higher end. Forget about Strip rates under $100 on weekends and don't be freaked out if your sub-par room at the Luxor costs $249.

What happened? Is this bad for the city? Is Las Vegas still a deal? More after the jump.

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February 9, 2006

MGM MIRAGE Development Update

Posted by Hunter

This morning brings a press release from our friends at MGM MIRAGE discussing, among other things, progress on planning for Project City Center.

Some good info in there, give it a read:

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February 2, 2006

1,100 Condos/Hotel Rooms Added to CityCenter

Posted by detroit1051

The Las Vegas Sun reports that MGM's CityCenter is adding more than 1,100 hotel rooms and condos to the CityCenter project on the Strip between Bellagio and Monte Carlo. The changes will add $1 Billion to the development. Estimated cost of CityCenter is now $6 Billion, up from the original estimate of $4 Biillion which was subsequently raised to $5 Billion.

The story may be read at:
CityCenter Already Expanding

A quick hit on a couple of stories from the past few days:

Castaways History

Boardwalk Closes

Cosmopolitan Gets Financing

October 19, 2005

Boardwalk to Close Jan 9th to Make Way for CityCenter

Posted by Hunter

The Boardwalk, located between Monte Carlo and Bellagio on the Las Vegas Strip, will close January 9th, 2006 to make way for MGM MIRAGE's upcoming Project CityCenter

LVRJ: Boardwalk to Close
LV Sun: Boardwalk to Close

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September 21, 2005

CityCenter and Macau Graphics

Posted by Hunter

Due to a request from MGM MIRAGE, we have removed the images. Sorry guys.

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September 15, 2005

MGM MIRAGE Attempts To Reshape the Strip With CityCenter

Posted by Hunter

MGM MIRAGE will release more details on their ambitious CityCenter project today.

UPDATE: Official Press Release: here.

Some information is offered up in the RJ:
Project CityCenter Details

More here:
CNN on CityCenter

Marketwatch on CityCenter

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July 6, 2005

Project City Center Hotel Info Emerges

Posted by Hunter

According to the Las Vegas Sun, one of the operators of the three 'boutique' hotels included in MGM MIRAGE's 'Project CityCenter' will be the famed Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.

Mandarin currently has no presence in Las Vegas but they are known for their high end accommodations around the World.

Project CityCenter will be built on land between Bellagio and Monte Carlo that is currently occupied by the Boardwalk Hotel. CityCenter is scheduled to open in 2009.

Las Vegas Sun

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May 9, 2005

Great Stuff Coming

Posted by Hunter

I'm expecting a whole series of great new posts coming in the coming weeks and months, including:

  • What's Wrong With Wynn Las Vegas - Our letter to Steve.
  • MGM MIRAGE + Mandalay = What's next?
  • An Introduction to Sports Betting - this is the first article by a guest author, soon to be named.
  • Project CityCenter - Will it Really Change Las Vegas?
  • High Rise Condo Buying Guide
  • Stripping: Caesars Palace, The Flamingo, O'Shea's, Imperial Palace and Harrah's
  • The Best Las Vegas Hotel Web Sites
  • What Casino Offers The Highest Return on Investment in Las Vegas?

Plus a lot more. I'm having a great time writing this stuff and this is just the beginning.

Love writing? Love Las Vegas? We're looking for contributors. Feel free to contact us at:

April 26, 2005

New Project City Center Rendering

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to the 2004 MGM MIRAGE annual report, we have a new rendering of their CityCenter project, going up between Bellagio and Monte Carlo.

Project CityCenter (large)