Issue 239
April 11 - April 17, 2005
Volume 5
page 1

This Issue

Gaming News

Newport Grand announces hotel, gambling vision

Pelli to Design Themeless Casino

Sugar Creek revives casino dream

Casino hope crumbles for Dome owner

Measure to expand gambling at Hoosier tracks dies

Show Time Sammy kershaw performs at the Table Mountain Casino & Bingo May 21, 2005..

Column New Blue Chip Casino a Gem for Michigan City
by John Brokopp..

Check out our entertainment highlights & upcoming tournaments

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Newport Grand announces hotel, gambling vision

As reported by the Providence Journal, Rhode Island


NEWPORT, Rhode Island - The cavernous fronton at Newport Grand, where the world's best jai alai players once thrilled fans and bettors with their fast-paced sport, may become a five-story, 86-room hotel with extra space for dining and video gambling, according to the casino's owner.

Newport Grand is proposing to spend $20 million over the next three years on improvements to the casino, with most of the work focused on modifying the fronton, which shut down in 2003.

"What we've been doing since 1992 is meeting demand by building very nice spaces that are nicely appointed," said general manager and part owner Diane S. Hurley, referring to the year video gambling made its debut. "This project will drive demand by introducing completely new amenities to the property. We think that's what we need to do."

Hurley unveiled her plans for Newport Grand at a Senate hearing yesterday during which she asked for exactly what Lincoln Park's prospective buyer is seeking: a tax freeze for the next 18 years.

"The most important factor is tax stabilization," said Hurley. "We are not looking for tax breaks or credits."

Tax stability, said Hurley, would help finance the project, which she projects would double the number of jobs to 400 and allow for the addition of another 800 video machines.

The size and the footprint of the building would not change, she said, because the new hotel and dining facilities would be carved out of the 40,000-square-foot, seven-story space that houses the vacant jai alai court and 3,000-seat auditorium.

Initially, plans called for transforming the space into a performance venue able to compete with the live entertainment at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. But a consultant hired to conduct a feasibility study determined that Newport Grand would be able to put on just a dozen events a year.

The study also determined that the fronton was too small for trade shows and lacked sufficient amenities for conventions, Hurley said.

"None of these seemed like particularly good answers to what we should do with it," said Hurley.

But a west-facing hotel, with a lofty atrium and rooms offering views of Narragansett Bay and the Claiborne Pell Bridge, made sense, said Hurley.So did using 30,000 square feet of space for more gambling and food and beverage purveyors. All but the stadium's upper-level seating, which is supported by columns, would be used, Hurley said.

Hurley emphasized that the improvements would help support Newport's tourism industry, not compete against it. A "rewards" program would provide incentives to visit local attractions and a concierge service would provide transportation.

The need for a larger work force at the casino would also create demand for training at the nearby Community College of Rhode Island campus, now under construction.

The same year Newport Grand shut down the fronton -- citing the sport's waning popularity and profitability -- the casino won approval for another 525 video machines.

Today, said Hurley, there are 1,020 machines. Another 50 will be added by July 1. That leaves Newport Grand with permission to add another 230 machines. Hurley envisions seeking approval to install 800 more machines by 2011. The hotel, she said, would open in 2009.

The improvements, said Hurley, would help Rhode Island snare money that might otherwise go to the casinos in Connecticut, and serve as an "offensive" move against video gambling proposals in Massachusetts.

For every $1 spent on video-machine revenues at Newport Grand, 63.5 cents goes to the state, 26 cents is kept by the casino, 9.5 percent goes to the machine vendors and 1 percent goes to the City of Newport.

Newport Grand projects that, with the changes, its operation would earn the state $877 million in gambling tax from 2006 to 2015.

Pelli to Design Themeless Casino
As reported by the The Los Angeles Times

LAS VEGAS, Nevada - MGM Mirage Inc. has hired Cesar Pelli to design a 4,000-room hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip that will serve as the centerpiece for the company's $4.7-billion Project CityCenter development.

Unlike the faux castles, pyramids, jungles and city knockoffs that make up the giant themed resorts along the Strip, this project will be about the architecture, said Pelli, former dean of Yale University's School of Architecture.

"When you don't have a theme, the attraction of the building has to rest in the beauty of the architecture," Pelli said.

Early plans envision two soaring glass towers of 60 stories. The use of glass, Pelli said, will give guests "extraordinary views" of the bustling Strip and the stark desert that lies in the distance.

Pegged as a four-star resort designed to fill the market between MGM's Mirage and the high-end Bellagio, the new hotel will have a 150,000-square-foot casino, a 2,000-seat theater where MGM expects to launch another Cirque du Soleil production and 15 to 20 restaurants. MGM Mirage executives expect the cost to reach $2.5 billion.

The project is part of a vast development MGM Mirage launched in November that will include three smaller hotels, a 550,000-square-foot shopping complex and 1,650 condominium units.

Scheduled to open in 2009, the project will be located on 66 acres which now feature the small Boardwalk Hotel & Casino, a few scattered shops and mostly vacant space.

It will serve as a critical link between MGM's Bellagio resort on the north and a series of company properties to the south, starting with the Monte Carlo, said Bobby Baldwin, chief executive of MGM's Mirage Resorts division.

After the company completes its $7.9-billion purchase of Mandalay Resort Group in the coming weeks, it will control nearly 3 miles of continuous frontage - and 21,000 hotel rooms - on the west side of the Strip surrounding the development. When completed, the CityCenter properties will give MGM an additional 5,200 rooms along that stretch.

Pelli, known for such Southern California architectural icons as the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood and 777 Figueroa Tower in Los Angeles, is part of an architectural renaissance in Las Vegas. Walt Disney Concert Hall architect Frank Gehry is designing an Alzheimer's disease research center in the gaming mecca.

Dave Hickey, an art critic and professor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, says it's no surprise that well known architects have discovered Las Vegas.

"The chichi architects," he said, "are going there because that's where the big projects are getting built."


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