The future of Las Vegas hospitality might be uncertain, but there is this certainty: Sean Christie will be in the mix.
The outgoing MGM Resorts International president of nightlife is creating his own company, being assembled even as we speak. This outfit will have “hospitality” in the name (that will be determined later), with between six and 10 veteran Vegas nightlife execs.
Christie plans to be ready to partner with operators looking to reopen their entertainment venues, nightclubs and restaurants by the summer. He is looking down the longer horizon, too, preparing for Las Vegas’s gradual return to characteristically strong hospitality business in 2021.
“I think that companies are going to need companies like mine to create content and create ‘wow’ to drive people into buildings,” Christie said during the latest episode of “PodKats!” posted Monday. “I think there is going to be a need for those types of things more than ever in the near-future.”
Christie, who announced his split from MGM Resorts on March 27, is assessing customer tendencies when tourists are comfortable in large gatherings.
“There’s a new normal, but the normal doesn’t include the idea that people aren’t going to gather,” he says. “It’s just how we enter buildings, and how we know that we’re safe, which I think we’re all going to discover in the next year to year and a half.”
Christie says he’s going “back to my roots” in a 20-year career in Las Vegas. His career in the city includes five years as managing partner of The Light Group in the early and mid-2002. Light launched such Strip nightlife destinations as Jet at The Mirage, Light and Fix at Bellagio, and Stack at Luxor.
Christie’s Las Vegas Nightlife company, created in 2006, operated clubs at City Center, M Resort and Wynn Las Vegas. That led to a 10-year run as a leading nightlife executive at Wynn Las Vegas, where he developed Blush, Surrender and Encore Beach Club.
At MGM Resorts, Christie was the company’s lead in developing On The Record (with partners Jonnie and Mark Houston) and Mama Rabbit at Park MGM, and Mayfair Supper Club with the No Ceilings Entertainment team.
Christie has already heard from “a couple of Strip operators,” including an unspecified company with which he’s never partnered. He’s not ruling out doing business with his previous employers, Wynn and MGM Resorts.
“In both of those cases, I parted ways on good terms and we’re great friends,” Christie says. “I love working with people I’ve worked with before. Both parties know what they’re getting.”
Familiarity is a priority as Christie builds his new team. He wants officials who know Las Vegas. He’s also eager to return sidelined individuals back to the field.
“It’s a start-up, so I’m looking forward to familiar, reputable faces coming on board,” Christie says. “One of my main objectives is to do my small part to get people back to work. We all think that next year is going to be a lot brighter than this year.”
A right hook
Broadcast legend and multiple halls of fame member Al Bernstein has launched “Al Bernstein Unplugged: On Boxing,” a weekly podcast running across all major streaming platforms. The video version is on YouTube; submit questions on Bernstein’s @AlBernstein Twitter page.
Two-division world champ Andre Ward joins Bernstein on Episode 1, and the host also recounts the Thomas Hearns-Marvelous Marvin Hagler bout at Caesars Palace in 1985. Bernstein and Al Michaels called that brawl, one of Bernstein’s favorites. Top Rank Boxing founder Bob Arum is set to appear next week.
Veteran broadcaster Trip Mitchell is Bernstein’s co-host. As Bernstein says, Mitchell narrowly beat out Adrien Broner for the job, and he is kidding.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.