Not only has the sale of the Bellagio Fountains been discussed, but itâ€™s pretty much a done deal, according to recent rumors out of Las Vegas
A while back it was rumored by someone at The Las Vegas Review Journal that MGM was preparing to sell the Bellagio Fountains to raise money. According to the report, MGM was prepared to part ways with the iconic fountains for an undisclosed amount to a developer, who would turn it into a shopping promenade filled with boutique shops and restaurants. MGM was quick to deny the reports, but I spoke to someone with close ties to the Las Vegas scene and asked him to look into it further to see if he can determine whether those rumors had substance.
My contact the other day told me he did talk to people in the know and not only has the sale of the Bellagio Fountains been discussed, but itâ€™s pretty much a done deal. He said he believes that MGM will maintain some of the property rather than it being a complete outright sale and it will feature a shopping complex complete with boutique shops and 5 star restaurants and MGM will get some of the retail space. My source also expects some of the fountain will be kept for aesthetic purposes (similar to the way many new shopping venues keep part of existing landmarks throughout North America to maintain history), but the majority of the fountain will be drained and gutted. While my source didnâ€™t know who the sale was to, he said he was told it was going to be a “major name in the shopping industry.” The shopping venue is not expected to compete with the two Premium Outlet malls in Las Vegas now and the total price will be in the high seven figures.
Apparently the conversion of the fountain was first discussed when MGM reorganized and set up MGM Growth Properties last year as a separate entity. The company, which was struggling at the time, was looking at assets it could divest and this was one that came to the forefront. The fountain, while iconic, brings in no revenue to the casino and even tourist visits to the fountain have been dwindling recently. Add to that the fact that two fountains in Dubai and Manila are now bigger and the non-monetary value of the fountains have declined. Moreover, Steve Wynnâ€™s announcement that he would be replacing his golf course with a water park made the decision all the easier.
The fountain was built in the 1990s and was featured in two Ocean Eleven movies. Several golfers including Phil Mickelson drove golf balls over the fountain and a famous commercial showed Alviro Quiros driving a ball over the fountain while flames rose. The Bellagio casino was built by Steve Wynn at the site of the old Dunes Casino in 1998 and is regarded as one of the best on the strip. It is host to many large poker tournaments and is one of the biggest money makers for MGM. But as was mentioned, the fountain is just an attraction and brings in no money for the casino itself and MGM wants to focus on building new resort casinos around the world.
My source expects that an official announcement of the sale will be made by Labor Day.
Asked if he believes the loss of the Bellagio Fountains will create a void on the Las Vegas Strip, my source said he doubts it.
â€œIf the tear-down is done right, then the new promenade that replaces it will likely bring in more tourists. We always hear that the strip wonâ€™t be the same whenever a hotel or attraction is gone but, when all is said and done, things go on. Millennials are more interested in pools and boutiques than fountains or attractions like the gondolas at The Venetian, volcano at the Mirage or the show at Treasure Island. And personally the only attraction I can say I honestly miss is the old cowboy sign from the Westward Ho. This is a tough decision for MGM, but itâ€™s the right one.â€2 comments