MGM’s plans call for $1.5 billion Atlantic City casino

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MGM Mirage says it will build the resort’s most expensive casino on land in the Marina District it now calls Renaissance Pointe.

 

By JOE WEINERT

 

ATLANTIC CITY – The casino company whose executives enjoy speaking in superlatives plans to spend a record amount on its proposed Atlantic City casino hotel.

 

“The Borgata’s cost is $1.035 billion. The project we will do, based on some early due diligence, will be in excess of that number but probably less than $1.5 billion. I would lean toward the upper end of that scale,” MGM Mirage executive John Redmond said Monday in a telephone interview.

 

Currently, Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort boasts the city’s highest construction price tag at $1 billion. Borgata, half-owned by MGM Mirage, is budgeted to surpass that figure.

 

MGM Mirage also owns the country’s most expensively built casino, Togel the $1.6 billion Bellagio in Las Vegas. It is possible that the company’s Atlantic City project could come in at No. 2 overall, ahead of the $1.3 billion Venetian in Las Vegas.

 

“It will be a very significant project,” said Redmond, CEO of the company’s MGM Grand Resorts division. “I imagine more information will be coming out in terms of the theming and branding toward the end of this year and into the early part of next year.”

 

In January, MGM Mirage announced a new proposal to build a casino hotel on 55 acres of the Marina District tract it acquired when it bought Mirage Resorts Inc. almost 15 months ago. Previously, both MGM and Mirage had been planning separate Atlantic City projects.

 

Since January, the company has periodically divulged more information about its Atlantic City plans. Last month, for instance, Redmond said MGM wants to break ground in late 2002.

 

The company has yet to disclose the size, name, theme or look of the project.

 

MGM has, however, decided to rename the 150-acre Marina District tract that will be home to Borgata and its own casino.

 

It’s now Renaissance Pointe.

 

As in, “the Borgata at Renaissance Pointe.”

 

“We never liked the ‘H-Tract’ name from Day One,” Redmond said, referring to the land’s common name, which was derived from the city tax map. “We want to remove that industrial-sounding name and replace it with something that’s much more descriptive of what’s going on in Atlantic City.

 

“We went through a multitude of names, but at the end of the day this is the one we kept coming back to. It has a nice ring and is more appropriate for what’s happening out there,” he said.

 

The Renaissance Pointe designation does not include Marina District casinos Harrah’s and Trump Marina because they’re not part of the new MGM casino complex, Redmond said.

 

MGM Mirage is committed to spending in excess of a billion dollars here even though local casino business is sagging, Redmond said. Citywide gross gambling revenue through seven months was 1.2 percent behind last year’s pace, putting the industry on course for its first annual revenue decline ever.

 

“We’re extremely bullish on Atlantic City even though there have been some negative comments out there because of the lack of year-over-year growth in terms of the percentages people would like to see,” Redmond said.

 

“At the end of the day, it’s still a huge market in which year-over-year growth will jump start with the Borgata and, of course, continue when we open our project,” he said.

 

The Borgata, being developed by lead partner Boyd Gaming Corp., is scheduled to open in summer 2003. Analysts expect MGM’s casino to open in 2005.