For Hard Rock, the Mirage deal in Las Vegas makes 'perfect sense'

A little more than a month after MGM Resorts announced the Mirage was for sale, the next chapter of the iconic, deeply influential property is ready to be written.

Hard Rock International has agreed to purchase the operations of the Strip resort for $1.08 billion, and the company with casinos across the country but no Las Vegas presence has already started crafting changes to the property. 

For Hard Rock, MGM’s decision presented an opportunity to establish a flagship Strip property that will vastly expand the brand’s reach.

Some details of the next steps have already been revealed. MGM is licensing the Mirage brand to Hard Rock royalty-free for no more than three years while Hard Rock develops its plan for the hotel-casino. Sometime in that time frame, “The Mirage” sign will be lowered and one of Las Vegas’ most noteworthy properties will be no more. 

The sale is expected to close in the second half of 2022.

A new era for a landmark resort

Hard Rock will now take the resort into a new era, with plans to rename it the Hard Rock Las Vegas and align it with the brand’s signature style focused on music and memorabilia. 

Michael Pollock, managing director of Spectrum Gaming Group, said the Mirage was a “perfect fit” for Hard Rock International, enabling the company to better leverage its growing national footprint and database of customers. He likened the deal to what the company did when it purchased and rebranded the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.

“They took a tired, old property with a nice footprint and made it arguably one of Atlantic City’s centerpieces,” Pollock said. “They know what they’re doing, and the Mirage deal makes perfect sense.”

Pollock said the deal adds considerable value to Hard Rock International’s loyalty program. 

“The points you earn in New Jersey, Ohio, Florida, Indiana … those can now be redeemed in Vegas. You can’t minimize the importance of that,” he said.

Andrew Klebanow, co-founder of C3 Gaming, called the deal the “culmination” of Hard Rock International’s strategy to build an internationally recognized casino brand. 

“With a casino-resort on Las Vegas Boulevard, Hard Rock International will no longer be perceived as a regional casino operator,” he said. “With Hard Rock Las Vegas, Hard Rock International can become a credible bidder for integrated casino-resorts in Asia, Europe and South America.”

Hard Rock International said its plans for the property include building a new hotel tower shaped like a guitar.

“The guitar tower will also be a great addition, particularly if they can locate it near Las Vegas Boulevard, perhaps in the area where the volcano, current hotel registration and rainforest stand today,” Klebanow said. “The guitar tower at the Hard Rock Seminole Hollywood is an iconic structure, visible for miles. A similar one will serve as a beacon on the Las Vegas Strip.” 

Remembering the Mirage’s impact

Developed by Steve Wynn and opened in 1989, the Mirage has more than 3,000 rooms and sits on nearly 80 acres. The mid-Strip property, acquired by MGM Resorts in 2000, introduced a new level of entertainment and service with its erupting faux volcano, dolphin habitat and Siegfried & Roy’s magic show. 

“The Mirage really did shake things up in Vegas,” said UNLV gaming historian David Schwartz. “The Mirage fused a big, mass-market hotel with a luxury nongaming product in addition to a casino. All the properties that came after that — MGM Grand, Treasure Island — which was built by Wynn, as well — Luxor; Paris, Bellagio, the Venetian — they all took lessons from the Mirage.” 

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