Saving Sin City

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Since CityCenter opened its doors on December 16, the world has gone gaga over the newest architectural masterpiece to land on the Las Vegas strip. With a price tag of $8.5 million, we would expect nothing less than the highest praise from national media sources, celebrities, and Vegas VIPs. And even though The Donald disapproves, as we reported here yesterday, saying that the architecture is unappealing and the concept was poorly executed, there are many who ardently believe that CityCenter can save Las Vegas.

The multibillion-dollar project, located between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo casinos, is a collaborative effort between MGM Mirage and Dubai World subsidiary, Infinity World. Luxury hotels Aria, Mandarin Oriental, and Vdara already call CityCenter home, with Harmon boutique hotel on the way next year.

Now the dust has settled from the grand opening celebrations and the fireworks have disappeared from night sky, leaving economists across the country waiting to see if CityCenter can boosting the fledgling gaming economy. The question has been posed from media outlets far and wide, including Forbes, the Washington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle. “Lots of people want CityCenter to be an economic miracle,” Mary Riddel, interim director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas told the Chronicle. “We’ve been so dependent for so long on massive openings and massive spending. We’ve hit a wall.” That wall was confirmed with October’s numbers, which show that Vegas gaming hit its lowest mark since 2003.

The power of MGM Mirage carries some weight and chief executive Jim Murren predicted that the modern artwork and glass architecture will draw tourists, resulting in a five percent increase in visitation next year. Though we are big Donald supporters, here’s one time we hope his instincts are off.

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