Hard Rock Moves to Acquire the Mirage Las Vegas

    On Monday, it was announced that Hard Rock International (HRI) and MGM Resorts are in talks for a deal that would hand over the operating rights of the Mirage Las Vegas to the former.

    Hard Rock Moves to Acquire the Mirage Las Vegas

    The acquisition worth an estimated $1.075 billion will be finalized by Q2 2022, pending regulatory approval and customary closing conditions.

    “We are honored to welcome The Mirage’s 3,500 team members to the Hard Rock family,” said Jim Allen, Chairman of Hard Rock International. “When complete, Hard Rock Las Vegas will be a fully integrated resort welcoming meetings, groups, tourists, and casino guests from around the world to its nearly 80-acre center-Strip location.”

    Plans for Rebranding

    The Mirage’s real estate, a 77-acre property, will be acquired under a long-term lease from VICI Properties, and HRI has indicated its intention to rebrand the property starting with the erection of a guitar-shaped hotel.

    The hospitality and entertainment brand also plans to change the resort’s name to Hard Rock Las Vegas. In the meantime, MGM Resorts has said it will retain The Mirage name and brand for up to three years and will license it to Hard Rock while it finalizes its plans to rebrand the property.

    MGM President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle spoke on the significance of the transaction for MGM Resorts and Las Vegas. “As part of the team that opened The Mirage in 1989, I know firsthand how special it is and what a great opportunity it presents to the Hard Rock team. I want to thank all of our Mirage employees who have consistently delivered world-class gaming and entertainment experiences to our guests for more than three decades.”

    With this deal, Hard Rock International (HRI), which is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, becomes the third tribe to own a casino at the capital of the world and the first one right on the Strip.

    Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, operated by Connecticut’s Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, currently runs the casino at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is on the verge of final approval for taking over The Palms. With both Virgin Hotels and The Palms being located off the Strip, Hard Rock Las Vegas will be the first tribal-owned resort on the famous corridor.

    A Long Term Vision Brought to Fruition

    Allen told Bloomberg in 2019 that Hard Rock was looking to buy a property along the Strip. “We recognize that Las Vegas is the capital of gaming in the United States,” he said. “If that opportunity comes up, then yes, we would be interested.”

    The company had already purchased the licensing and naming rights for Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas in May 2020 and was waiting for the right opportunity. They showed no hesitation when MGM Resorts announced earlier in November that it would be letting go of the Mirage, one of the leading resorts in the city.

    “The Mirage is the casino, more than any other one, that’s inspired what Las Vegas is right now. The fact that that brand is going away means quite a bit,” said David Schwartz, UNLV ombudsman, and gaming historian.

    The Mirage, which opened its doors back in 1989, helped bring Las Vegas to the hub of gaming entertainment and luxury that it is today. Prior to its establishment, there hadn’t been anything like it in the city. It brought in a new era dominated by integrated megaresorts that went far beyond the casino floor. With offerings such as the illusions and white tiger-taming acts of Siegfried and Roy, a controversial dolphin habitat, and an eye-catching volcano show on Las Vegas Boulevard, it proved that there was a market for that kind of resort. Many other companies followed in its stride.

    Originally developed by Steve Wynn on the former Castaways site, the Mirage was later acquired by MGM in May 2000 for $4.4 billion.

    “The Mirage really is the model for pretty much everything that’s been built in Las Vegas since 1989,” Schwartz said. “It really did move the city and its resorts ahead.”

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