Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

November 26, 2008

UPDATED: Jim Murren Takes Reigns at MGM Mirage

Posted by Hunter

It's official - Jim Murren has been moved into the CEO and Chairman slot at MGM Mirage.

No one needs to repeat that this is a very tough time for business on The Strip and Murren will not have an easy time of it.

Now, does this mean anyone ends up leaving MGM? Does Bobby Baldwin stay? Who gets the now-vacant COO job?

Update: Lanni has declined even a seat on the board. Odd.


Read archived comments (16 so far)
November 18, 2008 5:12 PM Posted by detroit1051

Baldwin and Murren have been paid the same until now. I doubt Baldwin would leave until after CityCenter is completed, but if he really does have expertise heading up construction projects and can successfully roll out CityCenter, who would be better to rejoin Steve Wynn and do the same for the golf course redevelopment? With the current slowdown, the timing could be perfect in 2010 for Baldwin to leave. Bobby was the key player in Bellagio's almost flawless opening ten years ago.

November 18, 2008 9:32 PM Posted by Phil

Bobby is old school and thats why I like him. He knows what Vegas was like, so guys like him are an asset no matter where he ends up. The worst are these outsiders that want to reinvent Vegas.

November 18, 2008 10:38 PM Posted by Arthur

Doesn't Lanni leave on Nov. 30th?
I'm thinking Murren will take over on Dec. 1st.

My guess is that Baldwin will be COO under Murren.

November 18, 2008 10:41 PM Posted by Hunter

Yes, the change over is 12/1. That was in the release.

If Baldwin was going to be COO I would have expected the board to name him as such, which they did not. The COO spot may be unfilled for a few months.

Baldwin could not have been happy a year ago when Murren was made COO - it basically shoved Baldwin aside and reduced his responsibility, even if his new job as head of design sounds like the most 'fun' in the company.

November 19, 2008 6:35 AM Posted by detroit1051

Many anonymous sources said that Baldwin was very unhappy when Murren was named COO a couple years ago, and that Steve Wynn made several huge offers for Baldwin to come to WYNN. Some of the stories report that Baldwin got burned out when he worked for Steve before, and that no amount of money would be worth it to get back into Wynn's pressure cooker. These stories are just that, stories, so who knows?

November 19, 2008 10:59 AM Posted by Russell

Here's a long shot guess; Gamal Aziz.

November 19, 2008 9:43 PM Posted by Mike T

Gamal Aziz would be an excellent pic for that promotion. He's done wonders with the MGM Grand.

November 26, 2008 4:52 PM Posted by David McKee

Not so odd that Lanni isn't taking a seat on the board in light of the fact that three states' gaming control boards, including (somewhat reluctantly) Nevada's are looking into the phantom degrees on his resume. He's sparing the company much potential grief by quietly bowing out this way. It shows class. Some casino executives have to dragged out kicking and screaming.

November 26, 2008 6:48 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Regarding Bobby Baldwin, page 158 of "Winner Takes All" gives insight about why Baldwin did not stay with Wynn. Paraphrased-Wynn is difficult to work for and shares the blame much more than he shares the credit. Kerkorian is about the opposite.

I think the Lanni issue is very sad. I think he has a better resume than most anyone who has an MBA from USC, yet a great deal of people at the top of the Casino biz don't have any better education, and are rumored to have gotten to their level through the help of very shady contacts. This is a harder fall than Lanni deserves.

October 21, 2009 2:30 PM Posted by tom genung

just viewed jim murren on neil cavoto program.
what a guy. anyone ever consider putting murren in
the white house ? he'd put people back to work !
japan rose from ASHES in 60 years because business
men run the country. duuh? how 'bout use ?

October 21, 2009 6:48 PM Posted by detroit1051

After watching Neil Cavuto in this interview, it's no wonder Fox Business is such a failure in ratings compared to CNBC. It should be called Fox Amateur Network.
However, Jim Murren is interesting. This is the first of a two part interview. Thursday, he'll talk about CityCenter and Kerkorian. Today, he sounded like a more refined, less showy Steve Wynn by saying Obama needs to be more focused on job creation, and how this will be a jobless recovery. He said MGM laid off 9,000 people who will never be hired back, even with a recovery, because MGM has totally restructured. Murren said MGM spends $400 million on health care, and they're paying more for less.
All in all, Murren was very credible. He is obviously trying to sell Vegas, CityCenter and MGM to the world. He did a pretty good job today. He also estimated 35 million visitors to Vegas this year, 38 million in 2010 and 40 million in 2011.
Here's the link to the video:

October 21, 2009 8:35 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Cavuto needs a throat lozenge. Murren got better and tougher questions from Jon Ralston on Face to Face, a show every Vegas lover should subscribe to on iTunes. And 40 million visitors is almost impossible in Las Vegas; 38 million was the absoulte peak and I doubt the current airport and highway capacity could handle 40 million, beside the fact that it would a miserable experience for the visitors. Maybe Murren doesn't know that 2007 levels of crowds and costs were a turn off if you were among the little people.

October 22, 2009 11:22 AM Posted by mike_ch

Well, I like Murren, certainly much more than Lanni. He certainly isn't understating some of the challenges the company has faced in the past year.

Cavuto often likes making business discussion into political statements, and gave him the usual slow pitch to get political and Murren just watched it pass by.

Jeff: His estimates are based on a high occupancy rate on the number of rooms available. 40 million would be doable if we were simply the slightest bit forward-thinking. The airport was going to offload some of it's traffic (including freight) to Ivanpah, and if we actually cared to have any kind of regional transit network we could move more people around more efficiently. But basically everything on and around the Strip is cars, either your own or your rental or your taxi.

This would lead to a rant about the Monorail and all it's problems but the only way you'll have less people on the strip is to have less rooms, and even though we don't need more rooms we're still building them. So if everyone gets 90-some percent occupancy, you'll have probably about 40 million visitors.

Also, there's still room for the mid-week to do better. If you visit Vegas only on the weekends you missed what traffic mid-week looked like in 2007, and while it wasn't as bad as it is now it certainly never looked like it would on Saturday and Sunday. Of course, since most the working stiffs are M-F workers, they have to bank on conventions to carry that, and...

October 22, 2009 3:16 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I don't take exception with 40 million ever, just Murren's projection of 40 million by 2011. Ivanpah is what, now slated for 2018? I recall estimated max capacity for Las Vegas with the current access modes is 45 million. 40 million puts us into the margin of error level for fuel inside and exiting Las Vegas as well. I thought 2007, with 38 million visitors was usually miserably crowded when we were there and I'd hate to be there when it gets back to that level or exceeds it. The only day I haven't been in Las Vegs is Wednesday, and that'll change on our next visit.

October 22, 2009 7:19 PM Posted by detroit1051

Murren interview, Part 2.

October 23, 2009 6:21 AM Posted by detroit1051

Since this relates to the theme of jobs, I'll add Steve Wynn's interview here. He and Ron Baron were on CNBC this morning. Steve is very persuasive.