It’s not an illusion: MGM is selling The Mirage, the iconic resort that changed Las Vegas

Dec 19, 2021

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It’s official: The Mirage, the iconic 77-acre resort in the heart of the Strip that changed Las Vegas forever when it opened its doors in 1989, has a buyer.

Las Vegas-based gaming giant MGM Resorts will sell The Mirage to Hard Rock International in an £812 million deal expected to close in the second half of 2022, according to a statement released by MGM.

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With the change of ownership, The Mirage will rebrand as Hard Rock Las Vegas. Along with the new name, the resort will also get a new look, including a massive guitar-shaped structure similar to other Hard Rock buildings around the world. The Mirage logos on the original towers will be replaced with Hard Rock branding, as shown in renderings released by the company.

MGM will keep The Mirage name and brand but license it back to Hard Rock for up to three years while the new owners work out a final plan for the redevelopment.

“We are honoured to welcome The Mirage’s 3,500 team members to the Hard Rock family,” Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International, said in a statement from the company. “When complete, Hard Rock Las Vegas will be a fully integrated resort welcoming meetings, groups, tourists and casino guests from around the world to its nearly 80-acre center-Strip location.”

The Mirage, a megaresort and the first of its kind in Las Vegas, ushered in a new era for the city. At the time, it was the largest hotel in the world and brought a new sense of luxury, complete with shopping, more dining options than ever before and family-friendly attractions, such as its famous erupting volcano, to the Strip. Not to mention the white tigers.

large gold and white building with rocky waterfall, palm trees and glass dome
(Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images)

MGM purchased The Mirage in 2000 from real estate mogul Steve Wynn.

Hard Rock International is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida and has a slew of Hard Rock-branded restaurants, hotels and casinos around the world, including the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, which also has a massive guitar-shaped building similar to the one proposed for the redevelopment.

While MGM International owned the operations of The Mirage, the land the resort sits on was purchased by VICI Properties for £13 billion in August as part of a deal expected to close in the first part of 2022, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. VICI Properties will lease the land back to Hard Rock in a long-term agreement.

“This transaction is a significant milestone for MGM Resorts, and for Las Vegas,” Bill Hornbuckle, CEO & president of MGM Resorts International, said in the MGM statement. “As part of the team that opened The Mirage in 1989, I know firsthand how special it is, and what a great opportunity it presents to the Hard Rock team. I want to thank all of our Mirage employees who have consistently delivered world-class gaming and entertainment experiences to our guests for more than three decades.”

Volcano exploding in front of the Mirage casino in Las Vegas
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

This is another in a series of MGM shake-ups on the Strip. Earlier this year, MGM announced it would acquire The Cosmopolitan for £1.29 billion as part of a deal with Blackstone Group, which will own the physical land and property, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Beyond Las Vegas, MGM is currently in the process of expanding into Japan, having been selected by the city of Osaka “to build and operate a world-class integrated resort,” according to earnings call earlier this year. It is also planning to expand its sports gaming and iGaming, or online betting, business, while looking for opportunities to potentially expand in “key U.S. regional markets of significance.”

Featured photo courtesy of Hard Rock International

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