Fanfare deferred for MGM’s CityCenter?

Nov 10, 2009 5:06 PM
Gaming Insider by Phil Hevener |

MGM MIRAGE (MGM) people seem intent on low-keying opening night parties at their $8.5 billion CityCenter, going with a no frills approach that is in keeping with the dismal tone of these difficult times.

That’s the conclusion of an acquaintance who glimpsed an e-mail invitation that had him wondering exactly what the suddenly reluctant spenders at MGM might be up to.

Will opening night mean meatloaf, cold cuts and cheap Chardonnay rather than lobster, shrimp and champagne? Will the visiting celebrities be the real thing or are they being hired from Impersonators-R-Us?

Perhaps the focus is on trying to strike the right tone with first night guests who will probably include a large number of the people owning significant chunks of the company’s debt.

But my first thought: I hope they rethink this approach and go with something that says happy days are here again. How many opportunities does a company have to make a good first impression after spending this much money on a product intended to create a frame of mind that will encourage casual spending?

Eight and a half billion dollars (or so) later, what’s a few additional million (more or less) to build and furnish an attitude that says: Isn’t this the biggest, nicest serving of fun and good times anyone has ever created anywhere?

But there’s another point of view and it was articulated by a respected veteran of more than one Las Vegas opening, who maintains, "A single party does not say anything about the kind of future you’re going to have."

He knows of the approach being taken with respect to CityCenter. "I’m not aware of everything that has gone into the planning there, but I can certainly understand it. I don’t know that there is anything of value gained by inviting all your best customers to a free party on a night when probably everything that can go wrong will."

A soft opening can make sense, my friend argued, "if you expect to he around for a while and have the patience to get all the elements tuned up before going with the eventual big splash."

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Phil Hevener