Thursday, October 22, 2009

This Week's LVW Col: Wynn Plays It Safe

There was something odd about the Garth announcement. All the spectacle of it came from...Garth. Wynn was almost a bystander. That got me to thinking. And here's what I wrote for this week's "The Strip Sense" column in the Weekly. -sf

Back to Basics -- And Garth!
After lots of trial and error, Steve Wynn is playing it safe

Wynn already gone Garth mad: on Twitpic

Let’s get this out of the way right off the top: Garth Brooks will sell out every seat of every show for however long he appears at the Wynn Las Vegas. Period. This is the top-selling American solo artist ever, he’s starved his fans of live performances for almost a decade, he’s forced Steve Wynn to cap ticket prices at $125, and he’s only got a room half the size of the Colosseum to fill.

That does not mean, however, that that’s all there is to say about this deal. Embedded in this decision, in fact, is a great deal of information about the rough, humbling road that Wynn has traveled on the show front since his flawless days as owner of that other little group of joints he built on the other side of the street.

The charming press event at which Wynn and Garth Brooks made this badly kept secret formally known to the world was a minefield of contradictions to me. I know Wynn well enough to know he’s proud of his relationship with Brooks and excited for what he will be able to offer his guests, but I wonder, frankly, if even he is aware of how much he’s changed his story since the Wynn Las Vegas opened.

Take, for instance, the moment when Wynn said, “There’s nothing like a single performer standing on a stage without any help.” It took a little while for me to figure out why that remark was so familiar, but it did finally hit me: Wynn and I sat together at the first performance of Avenue Q in the same theater in August of 2005, and, as the music began to swell, he leaned over to me and whispered giddily, “There’s nothing like the overture of a Broadway show.”

Ah, yes. Broadway. Remember that plan? Wynn didn’t.

Read the rest at LasVegasWeekly.Com.


Chris R said...

I've said it elsewhere, but Wynn can build the best casino and hotel in the world, get the best restaurants, pools, rooms and environment but... he's at best average as a promoter and producer of shows.

He got a good bit of business in Cirque back in the day, and never signed a real bad deal, but he's never signed anything that's been a risk and a hit at the same time.

Avenue Q and Spamalot were right up my street but didn't fit the Wynn brand. Gans was a tired Vegas staple by the time Wynn signed him, and Garth Brooks is less risky than signing Celine Dion to Cesar's.

The show room is just not his forte. Just as well his top of the game at everything else in the casino world.

robert said...

You did the math very well with the number of seats x the price, but you don't know what he's paying Garth. I understand that even if they sell out every seat (and you're not even counting comps!!), he's going to be in the hole by more than $9 million.

And the plane? He's leasing the plane for the 5 year run of the contract, but Garth has to pay the crew and the maintenance, so I'm sure he can use it go elsewhere because he's going to be paying for it. If the contract is completed at the end of 5 years----a very big "if----then Garth gets the plane.

And if he brings in a band or someone else to perform with him? Garth has to pay for that too.

So as usual in a casino entertainment show, it all depends on the casino play.....

Jeff in OKC said...

The executive air travel that Garth will be using is most commonly performed lately via a "fractional" service, much like a private jet taxi. They set up a jet to pick him up at the nearest airport to his Owasso estate (near Tulsa), and take him home at the end of the weekend. The going rate is about $3000 per hour flight time which is a little over 2 hours each way (about $15,000-20,000 per week).
I don't think Wyynn is really doing entertainment business much differently than he has in the past-all over the road. I think he got S&R to leave the Stardust (where Lefty Rosenthal landed them by giving them his wife's old Rolls-Royce convertible, that she didn't like because it was too big, and their own showroom) for a high profile deal at the Mirage. He got Danny Gans to leave the Rio for a high profile deal at the Mirage. And let's not forget his developing "Miss Spectacular" as a Broadway type show for the Bellagio. Hit or miss, he always makes it a big deal.