Without Robert Redford, there wouldn’t be a Suncoast.
Well, sort of.
In 1998, Michael Gaughan, then chairman of Coast Resorts Inc., announced plans for a new casino in Summerlin. Its name: Sundance.
He’d bought the rights to the moniker — for $500 or $1,000, he can’t recall which — after the Sundance Hotel, which opened in 1979 and was sold in 1987, was rebranded Fitzgeralds. (It’s now The D.)
The Sundance Hotel shouldn’t be confused with Sundance West, which, over the years, operated at 32 Fremont Street under the names Silver Palace, Sassy Sally’s and, finally, Mermaids.
“I’m a bit of a cowboy guy,” Gaughan said during an interview last week, “and Sundance is a good name, I thought.”
Redford thought so, too. The actor, who portrayed the Sundance Kid opposite Paul Newman’s Butch Cassidy in the 1969 classic Western, had since purchased the Utah land that’s home to Sundance Mountain Resort and launched the Sundance Institute, the Sundance Catalog and the Sundance Film Festival.
Within a couple of weeks of announcing his Sundance, Gaughan’s lawyer received a cease-and-desist letter from Redford’s.
“The plans might not have even been fully drawn yet to be approved,” Gaughan recalled. “It was way early.”
The longtime casino executive, who currently owns the South Point, says he knew Newman “from my days running around Hollywood when I was a kid.” He wasn’t about to call the actor to put in a good word for him with Redford, though. Nor did he ever consider renaming the resort Butch Cassidy’s.
“I kind of liked him,” Gaughan said of Redford. “So it was over before it started.”
“The attorney I had at the time said, ‘You know, we can fight this.’ I said, ‘I don’t want the Sundance Kid mad at me.’ ”
On Sept. 12, 2000, the resort opened as the Suncoast, the only other name by which it was ever known.
Contact Christopher Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.