And The Next Item Up For Bid... Tropicana Atlantic City (Part 1)
I grew up watching the Price Is Right back when it's outlandish 70's stage set didn't seem so outlandish. As I've developed from toddler to grey whiskered late thirty-something, I've kept touch with the ever yet never changing Price is Right drama. I remember clearly Bob's supposed philandering with heaping handfull of 'beauties' and other co-workers, whose annual parade of lawsuits only enhanced Bob's reputation as dressing room Plinko master.
As if performing penance for his pimpdom, Bob - who walks his dogs in a park near my house - decided to bear the cross of controlling the pet population during a credit roll pitch for spaying and neutering. Like bajillions of other TPIR lovers globally, I watched Bob's last show teary eyed, knowing that the Price is Right - for all intents and purposes - was over. Comedian Drew Carey may seem like a good replacement, he's a reasonably affable guy, but he just doesn't have the style or timing that defined The Price Is Right - which for most of us was ostensibly The Bob Barker Show.
Possibly my favorite part of the show is when one of the contestants - always the last one to bid - responds to previous bids with identical physical patterns as the tens of thousands who have come before - rumpled face, furrowed brow and a miniature epiphany followed by the third most famous three word phrase in game show history (behind 'Come On Down' and 'What is Uzbekistan?' 'Wheel. Of. Fortune.')
One Dollar Bob.
This week was the deadline for bids submission for ownership of Tropicana Atlantic City, held in the wake of previous owner Columbia Sussex getting the boot by New Jersey Casino Control Commission. A chorus of Rod Roddy's (including me) have called out the names of a dozen or so possible suitors who might possibly be crazy enough to Come On Down and put a price tag on the next item up for bid.
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James Packer... Come On Down!
When James Packer - the second richest man in Australia, Wynn confidante, budding casino magnate and huge player in Macau (via Crown Limited's Melco PBL subsidiary partnership) - flies into Atlantic City weeks before bidding on the Trop AC ends, one can pretty much surmise that he's brought his dipstick and tire kickin' Florsheims. Mr. Packer - who lodged at the swanky Boyd/MGMMirage joint Borgata - may have given the Trop a drive by, but when the croupier said 'no more bets' no pink Packer chips were on the layout. Packers' passing on staying at Harrah's, whom Crown Limited recently invested in, is equally telling of this gentleman's smarts.
Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority... Come On Down!
The Mohegan Indian tribe, owners of Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT, and the 'still has that new slot parlor smell' Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs also expressed interest in branching out into Atlantic City. After taking a hard look at the Tropicana and Trump Marina they passed.
Colony Capital... Come On Down!
Colony Capital - owners of the Atlantic City Hilton and the late Merv Griffin's old joint, Resorts International, produced a steamer trunk full of cash - $850M worth - in the hopes of making a quick buy before the bidding process could even begin. One might remember that Colony Capital also made one large bid for Aztar in the middle of the bidding war between Pinnacle Entertainment and eventual winner Columbia-Sussex.
Pinnacle Entertainment... Come On Down!
Pinnacle Entertainment, owners of somewhat nearby wreckage pile formerly known as the Sands Atlantic City made a play for the Trops in AC and Vegas as mentioned earlier. They instead settled on the Sands, blew it up, called in a phalanx of French Horns to pump up their vision of Pinnacle Atlantic City only to watch the shifting sands of the credit markets swallow up most of the three left lanes of their development roadmap. Take a seat Dan.
Ameristar Casinos... Come On Down!
Ameristar has long been in the hunt to move their mostly riverboat operation to a big league market. Ameristar joints in Chicago, Council Bluffs, Kansas City and Black Hawk do a nice business, but - coupled with a handful of other smaller joints Missouri and Jackpot, Nevada - won't support a billion dollar acquisition, not in this market. Ameristar's total indebtedness in 2007 was $1.6B. Ameristar is best waiting out the credit storm, building locally, then trying to grab a piece of the Bader field pie.
MGM Mirage... Come On Down!
The mere thought that MGMMirage would waste their time and money at the Tropicana while in the early stage development of MGM Grand Atlantic City is baffling. MGMMirage has set their sights on becoming a development company, not an acquisitions company. The only thing MGMMirage would do with the Tropicana Atlantic City is limp it for three or four years, blow it up and build something spectacular.
Harrah's Entertainment / Apollo-Texas Pacific Group... Come On Down!
If Harrah's were to make a move on the Tropicana AC, they'd probably be forced by regulators to unload one or more of their current Atlantic City properties, nearly all of which are undergoing, planning or have completed major upgrades to their offerings. The dust on Harrah's take over is still settling and it appears that they are more interested in international expansion primarily, followed by 'The Vegas Project'. Their recent pullout of Baha Mar coupled with investment by aforementioned Crown Limited, along with taking a long look at Sky City in Austrailia (who just hired a Galaxy Entertainment exec to be their CEO) makes for a very interesting cocktail in Macau, possibly in the clubhouse at the Macau Orient Golf Club. Like MGMMirage, Harrah's has bigger fish to fry than righting the Tropicana's listing ship.
In Part II: Barr/Bashaw, Wynn Resorts, Penn National, Cordish-Gomes, The Pequoits and those unknown New Yorkers.
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