The Las Vegas arena race drew a new deep-pocketed private competitor Friday when MGM Resorts International said it will partner with a powerhouse arena builder and break ground late this year for a new 20,000-seat arena on the Strip without a nickel of public money.
MGM Resorts will join forces with national arena developer AEG to build the sports and entertainment venue on its land behind the Monte Carlo and New York-New York. MGM did not offer a price tag or drawings. Construction should take 24 to 30 months after a late-2013 groundbreaking.
MGM, which owns 10 Strip hotel-casinos and the 17,000-seat MGM Grand Garden and 12,000-seat Mandalay Bay Events Center, moves to the head of the pack of contenders aiming to build an arena in the Las Vegas market.
Developer Chris Milam’s proposed arena in Henderson crashed and burned in 2012 when he said he could not rope in the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. Meanwhile, the city of Las Vegas’ agreement with The Cornish Group development company to build an arena in Symphony Park appears to be stalled. The exclusive deal between the city and Cornish will expire by the end of this year.
Gaming stocks were oblivious to investor worries that the lack of a year-end agreement in Congress to avoid wide-ranging tax increases and spending cuts would push the economy over the edge.
The sector closed out 2012 on a positive note in December.
Of the 12 gaming companies followed by Las Vegas financial adviser Applied Analysis, 11 showed marked increases in their average daily stock prices during the month.
Eight of the companies finished 2012 with a higher average daily stock price than in 2011.
Applied Analysis principal Brian Gordon told the firm’s clients Monday in a research report that investors believed a compromise would likely take place in Congress concerning federal revenue enhancements and other measures.
Then again, analysts have said the last thing the Strip needs right now is another massive hotel-casino complex. The Las Vegas gaming market is still in economic recovery mode after the recession sent gaming figures crashing back to 2004 levels.
Through September, Strip gaming revenues have increased 2.5 percent over the same nine months of 2011, lending some to speculate that the market is slowly coming back.
This brings us back to The Linq.
As 2013 unfolds, the $550 million nongaming Linq is one of three Strip construction projects expected to heat up during the year.
MGM Resorts International Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Murren signed a new employment agreement with the Strip casino giant that keeps him in his current position through 2016.
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission late Thursday, the agreement calls for Murren to receive a base salary of $2 million per year along with various bonuses, benefits and stock awards.
Murren, a former Wall Street analyst, has been with the company since 1999. Prior to becoming chairman and CEO in December 2008, Murren served as chief financial officer. Murren replaced the late Terry Lanni, who retired.
Murren is leading MGM Resorts current expansion efforts. The company is seeking to build hotel-casino developments in Maryland, Massachusetts, and Toronto.
NOTE: According to @LasVegasMichael, while this room was absolutely packed throughout the evening, the games totally died by morning, with only two 1/2 tables, and some heads-up 2/5 going on shortly after sunrise this morn.
Perhaps to be expected on an overall slow Vegas weekend, in a room without a loyal following yet, with most of the players being just passersby?
The ARIA poker room, at CityCenter, along with the rest of the casino around it, is now open for business. Here’s a picture of last night’s festivities, celebrating the addition of 4,000 more hotel rooms to the relatively unoccupied Strip:
The AP reports some guy named “Daniel” was the first person to sign up for action — putting his name on an interest list for 1/2 no-limit hold’em two hours before ARIA opened for business at midnight.
Now that all the multibillion-dollar pomp and circumstance is over (ha) … low-stakes Vegas pokerers may want to head to the Hard Rock, where we’ve got a Pokerati 1/2 game (nlh/plo round of each, w/ automatic run-it-twice) getting underway tonight at 7 pm. #MoreFireworks
UPDATE: The Pokerati Hard Rock game made a full table … even has a very brief wait for seats, but broke by 11 pm. Everyone was headed to Aria … where there supposedly “like 37 tables!” all full with a $1/$3 waiting list some 30something deep. I guess people really like new shiny things.
RE-UPDATE: Here’s more on the Aria, with specifics about their poker room, from Gaming Today:
The entire race and sports books is located in its own wing near the north entrance of ARIA, which also features the casino’s poker room.
Poker Room Manager Adam Altwies has created a beautiful room with 24 tables, 18 of them located on the main floor, with five in a high-limit alcove and one reserved for an exclusive VIP room.
The room is designed so players have plenty of elbow room, with comfortable chairs and food and beverage service available.
A nice touch is the Genesis-Bravo reservation system, which allows the poker room to summons the guest through a text message to his cell phone, rather than using some of the pager-type systems.
It’s been conventional wisdom around LV for nearly two years that as goes the fate of CityCenter, so goes the fate of Las Vegas. The multibillion-dollar project and biggest construction endeavor since the Pyramids (and maybe the Great Wall of China?) has had its shaky ups and downs … Five workers have died building it, and the project almost was abandoned under bankruptcy until Dubai World bailed out MGM/Mirage, which saw a 10 percent drop in stock price Friday after Wall Street learned of Dubai’s own $60 billion debt problems. But the stock price did rebound …
The artistically bent glass-and-steel center-Strip monstrosity begins opening in phases tomorrow, with the Aria casino putting cards in the air on Dec. 16.
Your very quick look at the newest poker room in Las Vegas — at what’s supposed to be the crown jewel of the MGM/Mirage gambling empire — comes at 1:37. Cheesy (but apt) poker metaphor at 1:54.