If You Build It, They Will Come. Or Will They?
A few days ago MGM Mirage opened Aria, the crown jewel of its massive CityCenter project. Hailed as the most expensive privately financed construction project in the world, this joint venture between MGM Mirage and Dubai World bears the burden of hope. Las Vegas has been looking to CityCenter as the force that will pull the city out of the economic doldrums.
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While the opening received plenty of local media coverage, it didn’t seem to have the same fanfare as recent openings of major hotels. With unemployment near 13% statistically and realistically around 20%, the local population isn’t feeling so optimistic.
The hope is that the new property will lure additional travelers to Las Vegas. The opposing point of view is that the additional capacity will only shift tourists to CityCenter at the expense of existing resorts. It’s no secret that people aren’t travelling as much. Another thing that has been noticed is that people who do come to Las Vegas are not spending nearly as much when they do visit.
One of the older strip properties, The Sahara, announced that it was shutting down two of its three hotel room towers (article). That announcement was made the day before Aria opened and cited low demand as the reason. Layoffs are expected as a result of the move. Many casino workers live in fear of the pink slip and revenue lost to CityCenter may, indeed, cause other resorts to pass out more of those termination notices.
Criticism of Project
Developer Donald Trump had some harsh words (article) to say about the project. In an email to Las Vegas Review Journalist, Norm Clarke, Trump had this to say:
“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.”
CityCenter is different in style from other Las Vegas resorts. It is a contemporary style with a lot of glass. Love it or hate it, there is no denying that Las Vegas has a lot riding on the project.
“I miss the personalization that Vegas was – there were showroom captains and all the dealers knew the gamblers by their first names.” – Wayne Newton