Friday, March 27, 2009

MGM Mirage Crisis Averted...For Now

Earlier today, MGM Mirage CEO Jim Murren sent this memo to employees essentially blaming the media for the tumultuous week of peril, anxiety and controversy visited upon Nevada's largest private employer that ended with MGM Mirage covering recalcitrant partner Dubai World's half of a $200 million payment. In the long-term, this resolves absolutely nothing, but it gets them over the hump for this very moment.

Murren's was a baffling letter. First, he denied something the media didn't actually report -- nobody wrote that either MGM Mirage or CityCenter HAD filed for bankruptcy, only that one or the other might need to under certain circumstances and that they had retained bankruptcy attorneys, all of which is true -- and yet he also confirmed the bulk of what HAS been reported. Then he closes with an admonition to disregard "stories from others about what the future holds for us." Odd, that.

A blame-the-media campaign works pretty well in politics but not in business; nobody, least of all MGM Mirage employees, will believe that reporters had a hand in creating the situation MGM Mirage is in unless the case is being made that we didn't scrutinize the CityCenter plan better in the first place and ask harder questions about how this math could possibly add up. Otherwise, at least in this phase, we've gotten the story right at just about every turn in recent months.

Well, almost everyone has. This image and caption used to decorate AOL's presentation of the AP story on the debt payment was riddled with problems:

First, they're still stuck saying that the entire thing is just one 4,000-room resort called CityCenter. And they misspelled "project" anyhow. And this rendering, I think, must be a zillion years old. I can hardly recognize any of the CityCenter elements in it and have no idea what the tall tower in the middle is supposed to be. I'd never seen this rendering before, in fact.

But, regardless, MGM Mirage and everyone who is dependent upon the company lives to fight another day, although employees I know also tell me that their 401(k) matching stops and their salaries are frozen indefinitely starting Wednesday, April 1. Better than not having anything at all, I suppose.

This whole thing left me with a sense of deja vu until Miles reminded me that this is something like the fourth or fifth time some major crisis or calamity befell or involved MGM Mirage while I was out of town. I was also gone for the shootings at New York-New York, the car bombing at Luxor, the fire at Monte Carlo, the time the cousin of the guy making ricin at a motel prompted a partial evacuation of Excalibur and what almost was a major casino blackout last year.

So perhaps Murren is right. Maybe it is the media's fault. Or at least, this mediaman's. I accept responsibility -- hell, nobody at MGM Mirage does -- and I'm sorry.


Boges said...

I actually think that rendering was one of the first, if not the first of City Center.