CityCenter Opens, Displaying the New Face of Las Vegas

MGM Mirage yesterday officially took the wraps off its more than $8 billion, highly anticipated development: CityCenter in Las Vegas.

At a sunlight-drenched outdoor press conference held at the porte cochere of the Aria Resort & Casino, the flagship of the 67-acre development that includes three luxury hotels, meeting and convention space, celebrity chef restaurants and an ultra-high-end retail complex, MGM Mirage CEO Jim Murren declared, "I've been waiting to say this for five years: 'Welcome to CityCenter. Have a great day.'"

With CityCenter, MGM Mirage and the city of Las Vegas are looking to brighter skies ahead for the convention, meetings, and tourist stronghold. Murren expects CityCenter will be Las Vegas' destination centerpiece and spark the city out of the doldrums of 22 consecutive months of revenue declines (and 13 percent unemployment) due to fewer companies conducting business travel amid the sour economy and, in smaller part, the once-heated negative perception of holding meetings in a party town.

"CityCenter is a central gathering place for Las Vegas," said Murren at the press conference. "Every great city has such a place, and Las Vegas is a great city and needs that kind of place." He continued: "We believe Las Vegas is a better place today, a different place today. We wanted a place visitors and residents alike can enjoy. People from around the world will come to see this place. As the economy and our community are healing, people want to believe."

Murren acknowledged the thousands of people who built CityCenter and will service its guests. The mixed-use development has already been an economic stimulus to Las Vegas even before its public opening tonight, by providing 12,000 new jobs. "This is nothing if not for the people that work here," said Murren. "They will bring this resort to life."

Located on 67 acres between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo resorts, CityCenter nearly didn't happen, when MGM Mirage's investment partner, Dubai World and subsidiary Infinity World Development Corp., sued the debt-strapped company last March over worries about the project's viability. But MGM Mirage was able to secure construction financing for CityCenter and unloaded assets like the Treasure Island casino resort, and Dubai World dropped its lawsuit.

Now, the final touches are being put on the six-tower mixed-use development. "Las Vegas changes forever with this new benchmark," said Bill Grounds, president of Infinity World Development Corp., at the press conference.

CityCenter includes Aria Resort & Casino, a 61-story, 4,004-room gaming resort; the Vdara Hotel & Spa, a 57-story, all-suite property with 1,495 guest rooms; and Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, a 47-story hotel with 392 rooms and suites. Aria boasts 300,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, while the Mandarin Oriental has 12,000 square feet of meeting and event space and the Vdara serves groups up to 400 attendees. Aria features a new Cirque du Soleil show called "Viva Elvis," a preview of which was shown to the media yesterday.

There is also Crystals, a 500,000-square-foot retail and dining complex, designed by famed architects Daniel Libeskind and David Rockwell and featuring brands like Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Tiffany & Co. Dining at CityCenter includes Beso, by actress Eva Longoria Parker; Todd English's P.U.B.; and Wolfgang Puck's Pods and Brasserie Puck.

—Nielsen Business Media