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Downtown duo eyes expansion

Oct 19, 2004 6:20 AM

Expect a sale of the Golden Nugget in Laughlin, possibly by the end of the month, according to Wall Street sources who are usually right on the money with their talk about such things.

Nugget officials are not talking since the hotel and casino’s public debt forces its owners to abide by certain disclosure requirements.

The expected sale may prove helpful to the expansion plans of Tim Poster and Tom Breitling, who also own the Golden Nugget on Fremont Street and are anxious to expand there, either on the existing site or on adjacent land that might be bought.

Their growth plans there would include adding to the hotel’s room base of about 1,900 rooms and suites. An enlarged sports book and a permanent poker room are also necessary.

The Las Vegas Nugget was the subject of a weekly Fox Network reality show. Poster and Breitling have not hesitated to be outspoken on their hopes for this nearly half-century-old hotel and casino.

They’ve always had much less to say about plans for their Laughlin property. Of the current major casino owners in Laughlin, only Aztar and Harrah’s behave as though they have much interest in this niche market on the Arizona border.

Builders crunch

The only thing going up faster than some of the new construction along the Las Vegas Strip is the price of some of the materials.

It’s true, says Steve Wynn. The price of putting up a building has increased as a booming construction business in China sucks up worldwide supplies of steel and cement to the extent that builders trying to create hotel towers on the Las Vegas Strip are paying much more for supplies than they did several months ago.

"Rebar and steel have almost doubled," says Wynn, who was huddling last week with members of the Marnell Correo construction company to see how much the numbers have risen as he gets ready to build the second phase of his Wynn Las Vegas.

Coast Casinos boss Michael Gaughan says he faces similar challenges as he deals with the reality of hard-to-get building materials and rising prices for his South Coast Casino.

MGM Mirage Chairman Terry Lanni says companies building in Macau will pay higher prices. This would include MGM, Wynn and Sheldon Adelson.

"We don’t know when prices will come down," says Palms GM Jim Hughes, who is overseeing construction of a second hotel tower. "We’re only on the third level."

Hughes added that he’s hoping for a break in prices, but "we went into this with our eyes wide open and are proceeding very carefully."

Wynn said he bid the first phase of his Wynn Las Vegas project long ago, when there was a recession and no one was getting any work.

Times have definitely changed.

”˜Hard Day’s Night’
for new Cirque show

Bobby Baldwin says talks aimed at bringing a Beatles musical by Cirque du Soleil to The Mirage in a customized theater have been going on much longer than most people may realize.

The president of the Mirage Resorts division of MGM Mirage told me, "This was originally going to be the show we would bring to The Mirage after Siegfried and Roy retired."

But their retirement came abruptly and unexpectedly a bit more than a year ago when Roy was attacked by one of his tigers during a performance.

To win full access to the Beatles’ songbook, Baldwin says, Cirque officials had to negotiate with each of the surviving Beatles and the estates of John Lennon and George Harrison.

It’s been nearly 40 years since the Beatles played Las Vegas, but their music will soon be available here as it has never been available anywhere else, thanks to the combined efforts of Cirque and Mirage Resorts.

Demolition of the old Siegfried and Roy Theatre at The Mirage has already started.

Barrick coming out party

Barrick Gaming’s Phil Flaherty and his colleagues held a coming out party last week at the Plaza. Their goal was to acquaint locals with the fact that this company that has bought most of the Jackie Gaughan properties is alive and doing very well, thank you, as it helps give downtown a new look.

Flaherty says, "The smear factor has pretty much gone away," as the business and financial communities look with more respect at downtown’s potential.

Barrick officials would get a lot of raised eyebrows and surprised looks a couple years ago when its officials talked of plans to invest along the Fremont corridor.

"It was as though people were saying, why would you want to do that," Flaherty recalls.