LAS VEGAS –Hard Rock International said on Monday they wanted to see how a guitar-shaped hotel plays out in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip.
In what MGM Resorts International CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle called a “milestone for MGM Resorts and for Las Vegas,” the companies announced that MGM Resorts would sell the operations of The Mirage to Hard Rock International as part of the a cash deal worth nearly $ 1.1 billion.
Hard Rock International, which is owned by the Seminole tribe of Florida, plans to build a guitar-shaped hotel on the 80-acre (32-hectare) property, Hard Rock president Jim Allen said in a statement.
The sale marks the end of an era for a property that helped transform Las Vegas from a gaming center into an ultra-luxury resort destination with broader appeal.
The Mirage, developed by former casino mogul Steve Wynn, opened with a Polynesian theme over three decades ago.
Its iconic volcanic fountain was one of the first attractions on the Las Vegas Strip, before the Venetian canals and the Bellagio fountains. It was known as a place where tourists could see Siegfried and Roy taming white tigers or a Cirque du Soleil number to a Beatles soundtrack.
It was not immediately clear whether the volcano would remain in the property, which MGM Resorts acquired in 2000.
As traditional players in the gaming industry focus on sports betting and expand into Asian and Middle Eastern markets, the sale reflects the growing presence of tribal-run businesses on the Strip.
When the Connecticut-based Mohegan Tribe opened a casino at the new Virgin Hotels Las Vegas earlier this year, they became the first tribe to operate a casino in Las Vegas.
And gaming regulators are expected to make a decision this week on the San Manuel Band of Indians’ offer of the mission to acquire the off-piste hotel and casino, The Palms.
Mirage’s underlying real estate is now owned by MGM Growth Properties, which is acquired by New York-based VICI Properties in a $ 17.2 billion deal expected to close next year.
“This announcement marks the culmination of a series of transformational transactions for MGM Resorts in recent years,” said Paul Salem, Chairman of the Board of Directors of MGM Resorts.
He added, “The monetization of our entire real estate portfolio, along with the addition of CityCenter and our agreement to acquire The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, will position the company with a fortress balance sheet, a leading portfolio and significant financial resources to pursue our strategy objectives. “
Jonathan Halkyard, Treasurer and CFO of MGM Resorts, said that as the real estate owner of The Mirage, VICI Properties is expected to enter into a new lease agreement with Hard Rock.
Allen said Hard Rock International will welcome the Mirage’s 3,500 employees to its roster.
He noted that his company had no prior involvement with the former Hard Rock Hotel & Casino which operated from 1995 to 2020 east of the Las Vegas Strip.
This property was purchased in 2018 and renovated and renamed by Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
Hard Rock International purchased the naming rights in May 2020 with the intention of eventually opening a property on the Las Vegas Strip.
Under the terms of the deal, MGM Resorts will retain the The Mirage name and brand, licensing it to Hard Rock royalty-free for up to three years while it finalizes its plans to rename the property.
The transaction is expected to be finalized in the second half of 2022, following regulatory approvals.
The sale is one of many involving MGM Resorts in recent months on Las Vegas Boulevard. The company currently operates 13 casino hotels in Las Vegas and 32 around the world.
The Las Vegas-based company announced in July that it would buy its partner in the sprawling CityCenter development for $ 2.1 billion, take control of the Aria and Vdara complexes, and lease the property to private equity firm new. -Yorkis Blackstone Group for nearly $ 3.9 billion.
MGM Resorts still remain invested in the Strip, with properties such as Bellagio, MGM Grand, Luxor and New York-New York. The company announced in September that it would buy the operations of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas for $ 1.6 billion from Blackstone.
It’s part of a $ 5.65 billion deal to put ownership of the 3,000-room Cosmopolitan in the hands of the Cherng Family Trust, run by Panda Express billionaires Andrew and Peggy Cherng; the real estate investment company Stonepeak Partners; and a Blackstone real estate fund named Real Estate Income Trust Inc.
___ Associated Press writer Sam Metz contributed to this report from Carson City, Nevada.