Monday, April 27, 2009

Fontainebleau Opening Delayed?

The Vegas meeting market is abuzz with rumors that groups scheduled for conventions at the $2.9 billion Fontainebleau are being told to relocate to other properties. The resort is due to open in October 2009 but is now caught up in a financing snafu in which lenders including bailout baby Bank of America that are on the hook to provide $800 million have said they won't put up the money. F'bleau is suing, Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Shelley Berkley are livid and the one major Strip project under construction that had pre-secured enough money to see it through to completion is now in danger of shutting down.

Thus, while F'bleau has not officially postponed its opening, there are signs that such a move is imminent. For one thing, it's almost May and the resort's website isn't taking reservations yet or even showing images of the room product. Aria, which is scheduled to open in December, is. Vdara, an Aria neighbor at CityCenter which also is planned for an October opening, has been taking reservations for months. And until last week, CityCenter's financing was far more iffy than F'bleau's.

Anyhow, I wasn't the only reporter chasing the word that F'bleau had told conventions to move, which would be the surest and most concrete indication that they're planning for a construction shutdown and a completion delay.

But, alas, I received a somewhat cagey statement a few minutes ago from the crisis-management PR folks F'bleau has hired to deal with this drama. Have they been telling groups to find other places to convene? This was the official line:

“We have not changed the opening date for Fontainebleau Las Vegas, although that is a possibility. If we were to postpone the opening, we would inform any convention groups affected by such a decision.’’

Uh, OK. Strange, though, that the rumors are so persistent. Could it just be competitors playing dirty pool?

Interestingly, there really aren't that many conventions scheduled for F'bleau, and none until January 2010, three months after the scheduled opening and only seven on the LVCVA's calendar through May.

I guess, as they say, this one is developing...


Anonymous said...

LVS should make them an offer they can't refuse for switching the conventions to the Venetian & Palazzo if need be. Time for a little revenue sharing above the costs incurred and special players cards to share in the casino take. These moves could help Shel fill up and make sure that neither Wynn or MGM get the business (and, no I don't consider Harrahs a contender).