Boom, Bust and BA-BOOM - Nick's Picks 2006

Dr. Death Watch Returns For Las Vegas' Annual Physical

Posted by Chuckmonster

VT: Lots of people are grumbling that Harrah's may have difficulty managing a high roller property such as Caesars Palace and may begin to set Caesars sights towards a lower minimum customer base, transferring higher caliber Harrah's players over to Caesars and leaving the Vegas high-roller market to MGM and Wynn.

NPC: I'm one of the people that is wondering about Harrah's ability to play in the high-rollers market. The Rio had a piece of it when Harrah's bought that place, and they didn't seem interested in that demographic. With as much property as Harrah's now has, it seems to me that they need to play with the whales. The question is whether they can pull it off. I'm suspicious. We'll see.

VT: Rumor has it Bally's is being fitted for a Horseshoe festoon. Do you foresee a full-on rebuild and how does this fit into Harrah's IP/Flamingo/Harrah's project timeframe?

NPC: I really don't have any idea what they're going to do there. My guess, and it's only my guess, is that they don't either. Bally's is an underperforming property with a big vacant lot behind it. Harrah's wants a Horseshoe back in Las Vegas on the strip. They've sort-of floated the idea of rebranding Bally's, building a Horseshoe on the vacant part of the lot, and demolishing the whole thing and starting over.

If it were me, and I don't get to make this decision, I'd think the northern part of their east Strip empire needs more attention than the south. I'd probably just give Bally's some touch-up paint, rearrange the furniture, and add a few throw pillows. The rest can wait.

VT: MGM/Mirage announced the January 2006 closing of Boardwalk and has begun to break ground on the new mixed-use sci-fi super city. Will the City Center project timeline be affected by Harrah's mega project?

NPC: I don't think so. I think City Center will be the driver for everything else, including Boyd's Echelon, Wynn's The Triumph of the Ego, and Harrah's Flaming Horse Palace, or whatever they're going to call these developments. City Center will come on line first, and everyone will be modifying their plans based on what MGM Mirage gets right and what they get wrong.

VT: Last year you teased us with a mention of MGM Mirage Mandalay's "Project Z" site... what's that all about?

NPC: Before the name "LuXor" was chosen for Circus Circus' planned pyramid-shaped casino it was referred to as "Project X". Consequently, when it came time to design the facility that became known as Mandalay Bay, it was referred to as "Project Y". As I understand it, part of the assets MGM Mirage got in its acquisition of Mandalay Resorts Group nee Circus Circus is a parcel of land on the west side of the strip south of Russel Road. The theoretical resort that may go there some day is naturally called "Project Z".

I don't know whether there issues due to height restrictions because of the nearby airport or loading restrictions (remember the problems the nearby Mandalay Bay had sinking an uncomfortable amount during construction?), but this parcel is ripe for development. My guess would be that this would become the next focus of MGM Mirage's attention in Las Vegas after the City Center project is well under way.

VT: Hooters/San Remo... holy shit. We visited the San Remo recently to find a 1/2 closed casino with bare concrete floors and gaming tables strewn about amongst sawdust covered slot machines. Of the bits of construction that we DID see, we were quite impressed. If you were making a line at the Las Vegas Casino Deathwatch Sports book on whether or not Hooters survives until 2010, what would it be?

NPC: If I were a betting man, and I am, I think it's 5-1 in favor of the Hooters Remo being open in 2010. The odds shift down if some deep-pocketed outsider buys the Tropicana. That parcel by itself may not be enough room. The San Remo has been running along just fine since it opened in, what was it, 1989? With its first major upgrade, the place can easily go along for a few more years if its owners want it to.

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