Advertisement

Circus Circus on Las Vegas Strip may have buyer

Bookmark this
September 27, 2019 By Bailey Schulz

Fourteen years after acquiring the family-friendly Circus Circus, MGM Resorts International is in talks to sell the property to TI owner Phil Ruffin.

Ruffin and MGM reached a handshake agreement on Sept. 12 for Ruffin to buy the hotel-casino, along with the Las Vegas Festival Grounds parcel, a multi-use entertainment venue on the southwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. Talks with other interested buyers ceased on Sept. 13.

Neither party has signed paperwork finalizing the sale at this time, according to the source. MGM Resorts was said to have put a $1 billion price tag on the entire hotel and land package, but the sale price for the property has not been revealed.

MGM spokesman Brian Ahern and TI spokeswoman Michelle Knoll said the companies do not comment on rumors, but multiple sources have told the Review-Journal that MGM was selling the property.

‘A lot of upside’

Bloomberg previously reported that MGM was in negotiations to sell the property to Ruffin.

The nearly 51-year-old hotel-casino, estimated to be worth between $850 million and $950 million by Macquarie analyst Chad Beynon, has been a gold mine for MGM over the years. Between 2015 and 2017, the property posted the fastest percentage growth in average daily room rate and cash flow among MGM’s Strip resort properties.

This wouldn’t be Ruffin’s first deal with MGM. In December 2008, the 84-year-old businessman purchased TI — then known as Treasure Island — from the company for $775 million. He also owns about 50 percent of Trump International in Las Vegas, and told the Review-Journal earlier this year that he was interested in acquiring Caesars Strip properties, if they were to go up for sale.

Circus Circus has been known as a money-maker on the Strip. The property made about $65.9 million in net revenue last quarter, with about $17.7 million in cash flow.

The 3,767-room property is known for its indoor Adventuredome amusement park and 10-acre RV lot, the only one of its kind on the Strip. Occupancy during the second quarter was 87 percent, up from 85 percent the year prior, and the average daily room rate was $88, compared to $81 the same quarter the previous year.

“It’s not glamorous, but a lot of Las Vegas isn’t glamorous,” said David Schwartz, UNLV associate vice provost for faculty affairs.

But that’s not to say the property isn’t valuable. The property sits on a plot of about 60 acres near Sahara Avenue on the north side of the Strip, near ongoing projects like Resorts World, the Drew Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention Center — all developments that could increase foot traffic in the area.

“There’s a lot of upside to the property,” Schwartz said. “I think it’s really poised for revival.”

Brendan Bussmann, a partner at casino research firm Global Market Advisors, agreed.

“It’s an opportunity to start a resort from the ground up,” he told the Review-Journal. “There is a tremendous desire to have an asset on the Las Vegas Strip.”

Other analysts told the Review-Journal that business opportunities abroad and the possibility of a recession could be pushing MGM Resorts International to sell some of its Las Vegas Strip assets.

History of the property

Schwartz said the property has been known as a value-oriented property since the 1970s.

“You had high rollers in Las Vegas, but there weren’t that many,” he said. “But there were a lot of people who’d pay $20 for a room and would gamble … and a lot had families.”

When the property first opened in 1968, it was “a bit of a wild place,” according to UNLV associate professor Michael Green. He said the casino was once known for having acrobats that would perform live above the tables and slot machines — all without a net.

“Circus Circus was (former owner Jay) Sarno’s tribute to his and everyone’s childhood dream of running away to the circus,” Green said. “The Circus Circus didn’t invent the idea that you welcome families, but they found the niche and they stayed in the niche. … Now, it’s a money-making son of a gun.”


Recent Articles

CD Young's Karate in Henderson - Vegas Born From Family and Leadership

CD Young's Karate in Henderson - Vegas Born From Family and Leadership

in Sponsored Content, Best Of News

In 2008, CD Young took a leadership class at Disneyland where he was asked to draw out his dream on a piece of paper. He drew a picture of his future karate studio.

October 14, 2019 By CD Young's Karate

Las Vegas veterinarian treats exotic animals

Las Vegas veterinarian treats exotic animals

in Sponsored Content, Best Of News

Dr. Ceballos and his team at Sunridge Animal Hospital in Henderson are one of the few places that routinely treat exotic animals in the Las Vegas area.

October 13, 2019 By Sunridge Animal Hospital

7 Las Vegas museums specializing in the offbeat

7 Las Vegas museums specializing in the offbeat

in Entertainment News

Sure, we’ve got museums that explore art, natural history and other serious subjects. But this is Las Vegas, after all, so we’ve also got wacky, weird, sexy, shiny and strange ones, too.

October 4, 2019 By John Przybys

Celebrate National Vodka Day with a refreshing Lychee Martini

Celebrate National Vodka Day with a refreshing Lychee Martini

in Las Vegas Cocktail Recipes

It doesn’t get easier than this. Celebrate National Vodka Day on Friday with a simple cocktail that highlights your favorite vodka.

October 4, 2019 By Janna Karel

Advertisement

Must Read Articles

Mohegan Gaming to manage Virgin Las Vegas when it opens in 2020

Mohegan Gaming to manage Virgin Las Vegas when it opens in 2020

in Future Las Vegas, News

When the Hard Rock Hotel transitions to Virgin Hotels Las Vegas next year, the casino will be run by a tribal gaming enterprise, a first for Las Vegas.

September 17, 2019 By Richard N. Velotta

A chicken sandwich designed for a Vegas morning-after

A chicken sandwich designed for a Vegas morning-after

in Food

Southern California-based The Crack Shack opened its sixth location last month at Park MGM, with an outdoor entrance next to Eataly, and The Hangover is a Las Vegas exclusive.

September 18, 2019 By Heidi Knapp Rinella

11 tiki drinks to enjoy while it’s still hot in Las Vegas

11 tiki drinks to enjoy while it’s still hot in Las Vegas

in Food, Las Vegas Cocktail Recipes

Summer will soon be but a memory, but it’s possible to prolong that sense of freedom just a little longer by quaffing a tiki drink.

September 16, 2019 By Heidi Knapp Rinella

Advertisement