Monday, December 22, 2008

Wynn has words for rival Adelson

Dec. 18, 2008
Wynn has words for rival Adelson

Hotel developer Steve Wynn, on gaming giant Sheldon Adelson: "Who else would have enough guts to start six hotels at once without the money to finish them?"

Hotel developer Steve Wynn, confident he's sitting on the next big thing, has a response for an archrival's proclamation that the Wynn era was over.

Back in January, fellow gaming giant Sheldon Adelson, then the third-richest man in America with a $28 billion fortune, said Wynn's time "has come and gone."

Wynn held his fire until Wednesday, five days before opening Encore, his high-end followup to Wynn Las Vegas.

"Yeah," Wynn said in an interview with Vegas Confidential, "and I remember when he said it, I started to pack up. I figured anybody who is the master of the universe must know everything. Who am I to argue?

"My reaction," said Wynn, "is the same as since his arrival on the scene. Total incredulity. He has surprised me in every single way. He's quite an extraordinary fellow, Sheldon, and his approach has been singular, to say the least, to the industry and to life in general.

"And I think it's pretty safe to say that hardly any of us have seen anybody quite like Sheldon and we wish him well."

Whiplashed by an economic storm, Adelson, who built The Venetian and The Palazzo across from Wynn and went full throttle overseas, saw 95 percent of his wealth disappear this year.

"You have to give him credit for being fearless," said Wynn. "Who else would have enough guts to start six hotels at once without the money to finish them? That's extraordinary. I know it's an old-fashioned idea but I've always had my money all done before I broke ground. I know that's old-fashioned these days, but that's why our interest rate is 3 percent here on our bank line, here and China. I don't know what anyone else is paying but I borrowed the money before I started anything and my builder told me he's going to give me back $40-odd million. We're getting a refund."

Asked if he made a bid for Treasure Island, which billionaire Phil Ruffin purchased from MGM Mirage this week for $775 million, Wynn shook his head no.

In November, Wynn had predicted that MGM Mirage would have to start selling some of its Strip properties to pay for the rising cost of the CityCenter, which started with a projected cost of about $7 billion and has soared past $10 billion.

Ruffin's purchase means "that place is bulletproof," said Wynn.

"Now we've got one guy who is only worried about Treasure Island. That's good for Treasure Island and good for the Treasure Island employees.

"The unbundling of Las Vegas is going to be a positive thing. I didn't think bundling, or consolidation as it was politely referred to, was good and I expressed that thought to (then) governor, (Kenny) Guinn. And I'm totally in favor and I think it will be better for MGM and better for the town and better for Treasure Island to have these places get sold off.

"It means (MGM executive) Bobby Baldwin and (MGM Mirage CEO) Jim Murren have more time to worry about places like CityCenter. That's a good thing. Having 10 hotels in one city is not a bright idea in my opinion.

"You can't focus enough. I know there are really good managers in each hotel, but having run four or five at one time, I will tell you there's nothing like focus. ... When you have your eggs in one or two baskets, you tend to watch the baskets. That's a good thing."

In another development, Wynn confirmed he has entered into an agreement with brothers Barry and Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees to produce a musical based on the group's music. The show would be similar to "Jersey Boys," the hit musical that Adelson brought to The Palazzo earlier this year.

Wynn said the treatment is being done by Bob Martin, who did "The Drowsy Chaperone," the Broadway musical that received 13 Tony nominations, including best musical, best lead actor in a musical (Martin) and best book of a musical (Martin co-wrote it).

Norm Clarke can be reached at (702) 383-0244 or Find additional sightings and more online at

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