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The Joint at Las Vegas Hard Rock ramps up AEG residency plans

Updated July 9, 2019 - 8:00 am

Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, what we know today as Hard Rock Hotel, is bolstering its position as a major player for headlining residencies in the city.

Hotel ownership group J.C. Hospitality announced Monday it has enlisted AEG Presents as its exclusive management,

operations and booking partner for The Joint beginning in the fall of 2020, when the hotel takes on the new Virgin Hotels brand.

AEG has promoted and booked most shows at the live-entertainment venue over the past decade, when the Hard Rock Hotel venue was expanded and relaunched.

Bosworth reiterated that renovations at the Hard Rock Hotel are scheduled to begin Feb. 3 (the day after the Super Bowl) and conclude in November, just after the 2020 presidential election. The property is expected to close during the second quarter, from April 1-June 30. The total cost exceeds $200 million.

The Virgin Hotels-AEG partnership will allow other concert promotors, including Live Nation, to also stage shows in the venue. The Virgin-AEG announcement arrives just as Live Nation’s exclusive booking agreement with the Colosseum at Caesars Palace has gone into effect at the beginning of this month. That venue is now dark for renovations over the next month.

“We have to be competitive, and to do so, we want to partner with the best operators in the business,” Richard “Boz” Bosworth, president and chief executive officer of J.C. Hospitality, said Sunday. “AEG operates 50 percent of the top 10 arenas in the world. Their ability to access quality acts in this market is already proven to us.”

The 4,255-capacity Joint is in steep competition with such theaters as Park Theater at Park MGM, The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood, Pearl Concert Theater at the Palms, Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas and International Theater at Westgate Las Vegas, along with T-Mobile Arena, Mandalay Bay Events Center and MGM Grand Garden Arena. The MSG Sphere is under development just east of The Venetian, and major venues are planned for Resorts World Las Vegas and the Drew on the northern end of the Strip.

“You see it everywhere, how Las Vegas has become such a competitive entertainment market,” said Bosworth, whose team has quantified that competition by tallying about 124,000 ticketed seats at live-entertainment venues in Las Vegas and 140,000 guest rooms in the resort corridor (which encompasses the Strip, downtown Las Vegas and off-Strip resorts).

“We know the impact entertainment has on all aspects of an integrated resort., and that’s why AEG is such a natural and exciting choice.”

Over the past decade, AEG has staged such extended engagements from Carlos Santana, Journey, Guns N’ Roses and Def Leppard. Paul McCartney, The Who, the Killers, Bon Jovi, Kenny Chesney, Nine Inch Nails, Imagine Dragons and Prince have been booked by AEG for one-offs at the venue.

“We’re so thrilled to not only continue, but expand upon our relationship at The Joint,” Bobby Reynolds, senior vice president of AEG Presents Las Vegas, said in a statement. “AEG Presents has been involved with The Joint for over 12 years and we’re excited to be on this journey with J.C. Hospitality to usher in a new and exciting chapter at the property.”

The original Joint opened in 1995, and since then property has been synonymous with top contemporary music acts. And Virgin started as a music company.

“Music is an integral part of the Virgin brand that dates back to the creation of Virgin Records, and AEG has a long history as an influential entertainment company,” Raul Leal, CEO of Virgin Hotels, said in a statement. “We look forward to collaborating with AEG to create and deliver a dynamic entertainment experience to offer our guests and all music fans that visit Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. This partnership reassures our passion for music and our commitment to keeping with our roots.”

The Joint will be refreshed during the hotel overhaul.

“The vast majority of improvements will be for the guest experience, VIP experience, and we will have some sound system, audio-visual improvements,” Bosworth said. “It’s been a long time — 10 years, since the expansion of The Joint. We’ll upgrade the suites, provide areas that are more lounge-like and have a club feel.”

Bosworth said The Joint will fit into the hotel’s overall strategy to sign with well-known and highly regarded operations companies. The hotel also announced in January its partnership in the worldwide Curio Collection by Hilton customer-service program. Restaurant and nightlife partners are to be announced as renovations approach.

“We’re building an all-star team of partners,” Bosworth says. “When you bring on Virgin, AEG and the Curio reservation system, people want to be part of that team.”

Among the nightlife venues to be announced, the Shag Room will overtake the high-limit Peacock Lounge gaming area. Vinyl, where Raiding the Rock Vault is booked through Dec. 31, will be turned into a nightclub after a 3,000-square-foot expansion. Plans have not been announced for the “Magic Mike Live” venue, the former Body English nightspot that has been redubbed Club Dominia for the male revue. “Magic Mike Live” has stopped selling tickets at Hard Rock on Nov. 24. There is widespread reporting the show is destined for Sahara Las Vegas (formerly SLS Las Vegas) in 2020.

Among the Hard Rock’s F&B strategy, the plan is to keep such popular restaurants as MB Steak and Nobu through the changeover.

Expect such large-scale conventions that have populated at the Hard Rock, including the Adult Entertainment Expo/Adult Video News awards, and Harman JBL during CES, to remain. The lineup at the Joint through the end of the year includes comedian Cedric The Entertainer (July 27); Mary J. Blige (Aug. 16 - 17), Brian Wilson and the Zombies (Aug. 31), Cake and Ben Folds (Sept. 10), Greta Van Fleet (Sept. 27), Daughtry with special guest Augustana (Oct. 4), Stone Temple Pilots (Oct. 6), Old Dominion (Dec. 4-5), Gary Allan (Dec. 6-7), and Cody Johnson (Dec. 12). The Big Blues Bender music festival takes over the hotel Sept. 5-8.

“Our message is we are still open for business,” Bosworth said. “Our plans for 2020 are right on schedule.”

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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