Vegas collegiality only seems to work in times of plenty
By STEVE FRIESS
Review-Journal gaming scribe Howard Stutz's Sunday column about the decision by Boyd Gaming to issue its Station counter-offer on Aria’s opening day contained this hilarious line. It’s not hilarious because Stutz is wrong. He’s totally right. It’s hilarious because he wrote about Boyd’s untoward acts of last week, when he easily could have been talking about Sheldon Adelson, Donald Trump, Phil Ruffin, Steve Wynn or even George Maloof.
As Stutz wrote, Boyd did themselves no favors dropping a bomb that would've been front-page news on a normal day last week. But at least Boyd didn't try to steal the spotlight the same way Adelson, Trump and Ruffin did. Consider:
* Adelson gave his onceish-a-year in-depth interview to Forbes' Matthew Miller on Aria's Opening Day. It's a fascinating exchange in which Adelson goes on about how important his Forbes billionaire's list ranking is in a manner I've never heard any mogul speak. And as for CityCenter? "Even though there is a lot of publicity about it, I haven't heard anyone who's seen it tell me it is going to be a winner. They have no strategy. They have no obvious plan. If they try to compete in the travel and tour business, they will cannibalize all their other properties, like the Bellagio. They don't have a convention space big enough to make an impact. So they built it without a strategy. How ill-advisable is that?"
* Trump: He went on "Larry King Live" on Aria Eve to declare CityCenter ugly, "an absolute catastrophe." Norm Clarke of the R-J theorized that Trump was reacting to MGM Mirage CEO Jim Murren's remark to me for my L.A. Weekly opus that the Trump tower in Vegas is hardly prime-time stuff. Either way, MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman had probably the most hilarious comeback of the year, telling Norm of Trump, "I can hardly imagine anyone's opinion that matters less than his." That didn't sit well with Trump, who couldn't bear to give his competitor the last word. He dashed off a hand-written note to Norm, who published it on Saturday, that read: "The CityCenter is architecturally unappealing -- It will be the biggest bust in the history of real estate -- good concept but badly designed and really badly executed. Too bad."
* Ruffin: The owner of the Treasure Island is painted in another Forbes piece out this weekend as something of a savior of CityCenter for buying the resort from MGM Mirage when they were desperate for cash. Ruffin's happy to play that role, sure, but then he drops this completely buried bomb: "They have so many billions of dollars of debt on that project. They are going to have to make so much money every month just to service that debt. That's going to force the MGM guys to go through a lot of pain again, and they'll have to renegotiate their debt but probably also sell off another property or two. I've got at least $500 million in cash and loans I haven't drawn down. And I'd love to own the Bellagio or Mandalay Bay." Shame, really, that he's putting Gilley's in the TI when it would've been so great where the underperforming Conservatory is, you know? But maybe he could get Cirque du Soleil to give him a "Cold Beer, Dirty Girls"-themed show for Mandalay Bay?
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