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David Stern's Hip-Hop Thug Life Gangsta Army

David Stern's Hip-Hop Thug Life Gangsta Army

MGM Mirage CEO Blasts NBA All-Star Game
Friday May 4, 2007
By Ryan Nakashima, AP Business Writer

MGM Mirage Executive Blasts NBA All-Star Game for Hurting Earnings

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- MGM Mirage Inc.'s chief executive said Thursday that the NBA All-Star game potentially hurt its earnings and soured the company on bringing a franchise to Las Vegas.

Chief Executive Terry Lanni made the comment after the company, which owns the most casinos of any operator on the Las Vegas Strip, reported first-quarter earnings that fell below analyst forecasts, sending MGM Mirage shares down more than 4 percent. They rebounded 2.4 percent in after-hours trading.

The company said the earnings shortfall was partially due to the rowdy crowd surrounding the NBA All-Star game in February, which fell on the same weekend as Chinese New Year, a crucial period for bringing in high-rollers from Asia.

"The gang-bangers and others who came for purposes other than attending the game, they weren't very good for Las Vegas," Lanni told The Associated Press.

Lanni said there was little action on the gambling tables the day of the game.

"In talking to our casino hosts, a number of people stayed in their villas and suites. They felt uncomfortable," he said.

Excluding Beau Rivage which opened in Mississippi in August, quarterly casino revenues slipped 6 percent from a year ago, and table game revenue, including the baccarat game that Asian players favor, fell 7 percent.

During the All-Star game weekend there was a spike in arrests and complaints about rowdy behavior. Five people were shot, including three outside a strip club. Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones and two friends are being investigated for their roles in an earlier brawl at the club. The NFL suspended Jones for the season, but he has appealed.

"Mr. Stern can keep his basketball franchises out of Las Vegas as far as I'm concerned," Lanni said.

Later, Lanni backed away from the comments about the possibility of having an NBA franchise in Las Vegas. His complaints were "only meant to refer to the All-Star game," MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said.

Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid, who has worked with Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman in wooing an NBA franchise to the city, said Lanni made his concerns abundantly clear even before the city sent its proposal to commissioner David Stern last month.

"Frankly, it's a concern if a company like that has concerns on that scale, it's obviously something that we'll have to address if we're going to move forward," he said.

He also said he and the mayor tried to reassure Lanni that having a team based in Las Vegas might not cause the same trouble as a single, high-profile event.

"That was one game on one weekend," Reid said. "If there were 41 games here, it may be different, but I don't know."

Goodman said having a team cheered on by local fans would be vastly different from the rowdy tourist spectacle that the All-Star weekend became.

"There's a big difference between out-of-towners coming to Las Vegas to party and locals going to a ball game," he said. "The crowd that was disruptive is different from loyal Las Vegas fans who back their home team."

Stern had long opposed having a team in a city in which sports betting was legal, but said last month he would appoint a committee of owners to study the proposal Goodman submitted. The city's bid made no concessions that would block betting on a team.

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