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Ex-Palms GM Jon Gray still in ‘open dialogue’ with Fertittas

Jon Gray has left the property, but he’s not locked out.

Two days after leaving his post as vice president and general manager of the Palms, Gray remains in an open dialogue with resort owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta III. The trio discussed Gray’s future over drinks Wednesday night in a largely social setting at the Fertittas’ Station Casinos Corporate Offices in Summerin.

“We had conversations about what might happen down the road, looking at this like a fork in the road and focusing on the things I want to do,” Gray said Thursday afternoon. “We are friends, and we’ve agreed to have dinner soon and they have invited me to the Billy Idol shows this weekend (at Pearl Concert Theater), I’m invited to work out in the corporate gym (chuckles). It’s that kind of relationship.”

Nice. But certainly, no binding deals were agreed during this session. Gray had spent a little less than two years running the Palms in what grew to a $690 million, property-wide renovation when the company announced Tuesday he was leaving the resort.

Gray’s departure lined up with the collapse of the Palms’ relationship with the superstar DJ Marshmello at Kaos Nightclub and Dayclub, a two-year agreement worth a reported $60 million. Gray was one of several high-level executives, including the resort owners, who signed off on the deal. It was apparent pretty quickly that the company over-shot Marshmello’s value to Kaos, currently dark as the ballyhooed Kaos Dome is installed in time for Cardi B’s “Demon Dome” Halloween party.

Gray declined to specify the terms of Marshmello’s contract buyout, though well-informed nightlife officials say it was likely far less than half of the original $60 million commitment. Gray did say that the negotiations to bring Marshmello to the resort included officials with Tao Group, an original nightlife partner at Palms until the two sides split in October 2018.

Gray said that whatever role he might hold with the Fertittas would be a new venture, “Something you couldn’t research online today,” and outside the Palms/Station Casinos portfolio. The Fertittas are famously aggressive, inventive and entrepreneurial, turning a $2 million purchase and subsequent $40 million investment in the UFC in 2001 into a $4 billion sale of the company in 2016.

“They are involved in a lot of different things, and we were talking about a totally separate, stand-alone entity, and exploring options,” Gray said. “My tenure with the Palms is done, my role to redevelop the property is finished, but we are on good terms and this kind of demonstrates the relationship we have. They are like big-brother figures to me.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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