No second for Strip, executive says

If it’s not the Strip, it doesn’t interest MGM Mirage President and Chief Financial Officer Jim Murren.

Murren’s company owns some 760 acres along the Strip, encompassing 10 casinos and the 76-acre, $7.4 billion CityCenter development. Roughly 200 acres of the Strip holdings are either vacant or underdeveloped.

Murren has heard recent discussions about the creation of second Strips west and east of Las Vegas Boulevard. But he doesn’t believe the second Strips will have has the same feel as the Strip.

“The Strip is not Manhattan,” Murren said. “If you can’t be on Fifth Avenue, you might as well be in Trenton (N.J.). In New York, if you can’t be on Fifth Avenue, there’s always Sixth Avenue or another street. The Strip is different, and we don’t believe you can duplicate it.”

Murren said the recent push to develop land along Dean Martin Drive and real estate west of Interstate 15 will only yield moderate gaming potential. He said the land is more suited for high-rise residential and retail or mixed-use properties.

New York-based developer Elad Group says it does not owe local broker David Atwell any fees related to its $1.2 billion purchase of the New Frontier.

Atwell’s company, Resort Properties of America, is suing Elad and an escrow company, claiming the brokerage company was the “procuring cause” for the sale.

In response to a July 28 Review-Journal article on the federal lawsuit, an Elad spokesman said the company is confident in its position.

“The company did not engage Mr. Atwell to act as a broker and he did not earn and is not entitled to a commission.”

Resort Properties is asking for a $12 million buyer’s broker fee plus damages.

Laughlin’s 1,495-room Ramada Express is now the Tropicana Express.

Like its Strip namesake, the Tropicana Express is operated by Kentucky-based Columbia Sussex Corp. The name change is an effort to raise the brand profile.

The Tropicana Express is the second of Laughlin’s 10 casinos to change its name this year. The 1,904-room Flamingo recently became the Aquarius.

The Imperial Palace has been spared the wrecking ball and is getting an upgrade.

Harrah’s Entertainment is spending money and labor to enable the Strip casino’s slot machines and amenities to accept the company’s Total Rewards customer loyalty card.

The conversion is scheduled to finish by January.

Recent speculation had centered on the Imperial Palace’s demise. Observers figured the land would become part of the company’s larger Strip master plan.

The Inside Gaming column is compiled by Review-Journal gaming and tourism writers Howard Stutz, Benjamin Spillman and Arnold M. Knightly. Send your tips about the gaming and tourism industry to insidegaming@reviewjournal.com.

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