Hard Rock buys The Mirage in Vegas for $1.1B

Hard Rock Hotel Coming to Las Vegas Strip — Courtesy: Shutterstock — Image by: Randy Andy

Hard Rock International announced on Monday that it wants to see how a guitar-shaped hotel will play out at the center of the Las Vegas Strip.

In what MGM Resorts International CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle called “a significant milestone for MGM Resorts and for Las Vegas,” the companies announced MGM Resorts will sell all operations of The Mirage to Hard Rock International in a cash deal worth nearly $1.1 billion.

Hard Rock Chairman Jim Allen said that the Florida-based hospitality and entertainment brand has plans to build a guitar-shaped hotel, similar to the one at its Broward County operation, at the 80-acre location. An artist’s interpretation depicts a large purple guitar with six light beams resembling strings stretching skyward.

A guitar-shaped hotel is a famous feature of the Hard Rock operation in Hollywood, Florida. Owned by Florida’s Seminole Tribe, Hard Rock counts casinos in Tampa and Hollywood among its nearly 250 locations in 67 countries worldwide. The company’s headquarters are located in Hollywood.

It wasn’t immediately obvious if the iconic Mirage volcano fountain would remain at the property, opened with a Polynesian theme in November 1989 by former casino tycoon Steve Wynn. MGM Resorts acquired the 3,000-room resort in 2000.

The underlying Mirage real estate is now owned by MGM Growth Properties, which is in the process of being bought by New York-based VICI Properties in a $17.2 billion investment expected to close sometime in 2022.

“This announcement marks the culmination of a series of transformational transactions for MGM Resorts during the last several years,” said Paul Salem, Chairman of the MGM Resorts board of directors.

“The monetization of our entire real property portfolio, together with the addition of CityCenter and our agreement to acquire The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, will position the company with a fortress balance sheet, premier portfolio, and significant financial resources to pursue our strategic objectives,” he said.

MGM Resorts treasurer and chief financial officer Jonathan Halkyard said that as the real estate owner of The Mirage, VICI will be expected to reach a new lease agreement with the Hard Rock.

Allen added that Hard Rock International will welcome The Mirage’s 3,500 employees to its roster.

He emphasized that his company had no previous relationships with the former Hard Rock Hotel & Casino that operated from 1995 to 2020 east of the Las Vegas Strip. That property was purchased, redesigned, and rebranded in 2018 by Virgin Hotels Las Vegas with a gambling floor operated by Mohegan Sun Casino.

Hard Rock International bought the naming rights in May 2020 with plans to eventually open a Las Vegas Strip property.

The terms and agreement state that “MGM Resorts will keep The Mirage name and brand, licensing it to Hard Rock royalty-free for up to three years while it finalizes its plans to rebrand the property.”

Following regulatory approvals, the transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2022.

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