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MGM Resorts might rename, revamp its ‘underutilized asset’ Monte Carlo

A view of the Monte Carlo, June 6, 2013. Construction can be seen as the property works to redesign the entrance to the resort.

Big changes could be on the horizon for the Monte Carlo resort.

MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren said in a recent interview that his company, which owns Monte Carlo, sees a lot of potential in the property and may make adjustments. Although he didn’t reveal details, Murren indicated that a wide range of options is on the table, including a name change.

The opportunity arose with the planned opening of the Park, a new shopping and entertainment area that MGM Resorts is building between Monte Carlo and New York-New York. Murren pointed to that as one factor motivating his company to examine Monte Carlo.

He also referred to Monte Carlo as a “gateway” that is “cradling” the arena MGM Resorts is building in the same area as the Park. The arena and the Park are scheduled to open in spring 2016.

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Construction continues on a $375 million sports arena between New York-New York and the Monte Carlo casinos Sunday, March 22, 2015. The 20,000-seat arena, a collaboration between MGM Resorts International and AEG, is expected to open in spring 2016.

Asked specifically whether there is any truth to reports of a possible name change for the property, as discussed by the Vital Vegas blog, Murren didn’t rule it out.

“It clearly is an underutilized asset today,” Murren said. “We have big, big plans for Monte Carlo over time, and I wouldn’t rule anything out.”

Murren didn’t detail a timeline for determining changes to Monte Carlo, but he was emphatic about the property’s prospects.

“I would say we look at that property with a more positive lens than just about any property we own right now,” he said.

Monte Carlo opened in 1996 as a $344 million joint venture between Mirage Resorts and Circus Circus Enterprises, both of which later became part of what is now MGM Resorts. It was meant to evoke the Place du Casino in Europe, and an executive said around the time of its opening that the property sought to offer “the experience of royalty for a value price,” according to a Las Vegas Sun archive.

A makeover for the roughly 3,000-room resort could be similar to what Caesars Entertainment was thinking when it transformed the Imperial Palace into the Quad, then the Linq hotel, as it built the Linq promenade area, said real estate broker Michael Parks of CBRE Group.

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An artist’s rendering of MGM Resorts International’s project the Park, which will connect New York-New York and Monte Carlo with an eight-acre outdoor experience.

“Instead of building a brand new hotel-casino from the ground up, it’s much more cost-effective to reposition and rebrand a property while creating the same type of buzz,” Parks said.

But David Schwartz, the director of UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research, said the Imperial Palace had not aged well, resulting in an image problem that rebranding sought to fix. The same is not true for Monte Carlo, he said, although changing the look and feel could still make sense.

“I’ve never heard anybody have a complaint about the facilities at Monte Carlo — I think (MGM Resorts) might just want to align it better with what they’re doing at the Park,” Schwartz said.

Monte Carlo’s theme isn’t as aggressive as those of some other MGM Resorts properties, such as New York-New York and Luxor. Any eventual changes could give it a more distinct identity, Schwartz said.

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