Development, Mergers And Cruises Dominate Gulf Coast Talk - 2005-04-11

This month, the troubled waters surrounding the bankrupt President Casino Broadwater Resort, the closest to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum & Convention Center, will recede as new owner Broadwater Development assumes control of the 250-acre site this month.

Roy Anderson III, president and CEO of Roy Anderson Corp., part owner of Broadwater Development, noted that the closing of the deal is set for April 15, followed by three to four mon ths work on a master plan.

Broadwater Development's partners envision a more modern resort-hotel complex in place of the property's current structures.

"A lot of the existing resort is going to be torn down because of its age," said Anderson. "We're trying to decide what pieces of the puzzle to fit on the property, and based on that, we're going to be developing retail, gaming and hospitality as well as a golf course. Right now, subject to change, we're contemplating retail north of the highway."

Anderson estimated that planning, permitting, and new construction will take up to three years, during which the casino is expected to remain in operation.

Once the work is completed, the development will revert to its original name, the Broadwater Resort.

Through another partnership, Premier Entertainment, Anderson is owner and managing partner of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino project, which is scheduled to open in September.

On the merger scene, Mary Cracchiolo, spokeswoman for the Beau Rivage, reports that with the ink still wet on the MGM Mirage-Mandalay merger, "It is hard to know how this is going to impact Beau Rivage's business. We know it will immediately create synergies and open up other opportunities, especially with convention business.

"When all is said and done, the new entity will own and operate 28 properties and will cater to a broad customer base."

With the merger MGM Mirage will bring the Gold Strike in Tunica, Miss., into the fold. Meanwhile, the nearby Grand Casino properties in Biloxi and Gulfport are also undergoing changes due to Harrah's acquisition of Grand Casino's parent, Caesars Entertainment.

That merger is expected to be completed by June, with Harrah's having five casino properties throughout Mississippi.

Finally, a new study has examined how to expand the port for cruise ships without disturbing existing cargo business, and at the same time handle big cruise ships.

"We're trying to make our port friendly enough to the cruise industry to accommodate two of its largest ships," said Steve Richer, executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau.