Archive for the ‘Las Vegas’ Category

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) — Saturday night was Fight Night in Las Vegas.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. battled it out against Robert Guerrero at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Mayweather fought as if he had never left the ring, coming back from a year’s absence to win a unanimous 12-round decision over Guerrero in their welterweight title fight.

Mayweather was masterful at times and improved to 44-0.

This was Mayweather’s first fight in a year. It’s also his first ring appearance since serving a jail term for assaulting the mother of his children. (more…)

The readers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal have spoken.

And for 2013, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has toppled longtime winner Bellagio in the Strip hotel category of “The Best of Las Vegas” readers’ choice awards. Maybe those ubiquitous, attention-grabbing “just the right amount of wrong” TV ads helped, the paper speculates.

The Review-Journal‘s pick for best hotel: Caesars Palace, for its mix of accommodations (including the new Nobu Hotel), entertainment (Shania Twain was just added to a roster that includes Celine Dion) and its new $17 million Bacchanal Buffet. (more…)

Las Vegas may seem frozen in time, what with one would-be Strip resort — Echelon — showing only as a barely started steel skeleton and another — Fontainebleau — a towering, empty building. Las Vegas’ construction gusto has been suppressed by the recession; the biggest developments in town are two large observation wheels. But once either of those is completed, a passenger high above the Strip may well look down on the construction of a sports and entertainment palace of one sort or another. It may be a sports arena downtown, next to the Smith Center for the Performing Arts. It may be an arena rising alongside the Strip behind Harrah’s and Imperial Palace, next to the observation wheel known as the Linq. It could well be a 50,000-seat, enclosed stadium at UNLV. Or it could be an arena on the south end of the valley, in .

The game of chicken to build a giant Ferris wheel on the Strip drew a little tighter Monday with a public sales pitch by the developer of one project.

While not breaking ground or even clearing a defunct 1950s’ motel from his site, Skyvue developer Howard Bulloch unveiled a 23,000-pound bearing needed to make his big wheel go ’round. He timed the ceremony to coincide with the annual REcon convention staged by the International Council of Shopping Centers, hoping to create a sense of momentum that might persuade potential tenants at the show to sign leases.

Skyvue, across the Strip from Mandalay Bay, would have a 500-foot London Eye-style wheel as its centerpiece, with 200,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space at its base and 107,000 square feet of light-emitting diode signs in the middle of the wheel or along the building’s side. Bulloch said he has yet to line up financing for the project, which he said would cost $175 million, but vowed to open by the end of 2012.

Skyvue would cover about 11 acres of a 38.7-acre parcel Bulloch and his partners purchased a decade ago.

Quick money for construction could be critical because Caesars Entertainment Corp. has mapped out a similar development, Project Linq, adjacent to the Flamingo and the Imperial Palace. Caesars says it has inked $450 million in loans for its wheel and to finish the Octavius Tower at Caesars Palace.
The company has not published many final details about Project Linq, beyond covering about 500,000 square feet with a wheel about 500 feet tall.

Dennis Speigel, president of the consulting firm International Theme Park Services, has said he doubts the Strip could support two giant wheels.

“The first one out will be the last one in,” Speigel said.

Big wheel projects have been floated for Las Vegas in the past but none materialized. Now, Bulloch has various government approvals, but not the money, while Caesars has money without final approval from the county.

The popularity of the 443-foot tall London Eye, which has attracted more than 3 million riders a year since 2000, has attracted a slew of imitators from Singapore to New Jersey to Myrtle Beach, S.C. The latest generation of Ferris wheels come with enclosed gondolas — 22 passengers each for Skyvue — instead of open-air baskets.

“A giant wheel has become the icon du jour,” Speigel said.

“The London Eye has been a tremendous success,” said Bulloch, who will model ticket prices on London’s. The basic ride would cost $20 to $25.
The Monday ceremony also highlighted that big wheels are not financially foolproof.

The bearing Bulloch displayed is a leftover from a Beijing wheel that was never built. According to a spokesman, Bulloch paid about $840,000 for the unused, secondhand bearing.

Bulloch said he has received letters of intent from potential tenants for 15 percent of the retail space. A letter of intent indicates a formal interest, but not a rental contract.

At least some of the early skirmishing between Skyvue and Caesars has revolved around location. By placing his wheel right on the Strip, at a slight angle to the street, riders will get a better view, Bulloch said.

“That is the real appeal, not being off the Strip,” Bulloch said.

But Caesars senior vice president Jan Jones depicted Skyvue as relatively isolated.

“If I was going to argue location, I would rather have the center of the Strip than being on the end of the south end,” she said.

Home prices rose in March from February in most major U.S. cities for the first time in seven months. The increase is the latest evidence of a slow recovery taking shape in the housing market.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index shows that prices rose in 12 of the 20 cities it tracks.
Three of the weakest markets showed signs of improvement. Prices rose in Tampa and Miami. They were unchanged in Las Vegas.

The biggest month-to-month increases occurred in Phoenix, Seattle and Dallas. Prices dropped the most in Detroit, Chicago and Atlanta.

Rising prices in most cities add to other encouraging signs of a housing rebound. Sales are up, mortgage rates are at historic lows, builders are more confident and the economy is adding jobs.

Still, even though 12 of 20 cities showed gains, the weaker cities weighed on Case-Shiller’s overall price index in March. The index edged down to its lowest level since the housing bubble burst.

At the same time, price declines have slowed, and a majority of markets are rising.

“This is relatively good news,” said David Blitzer, chairman of S&P’s index committee. “We just need to see it happen in more of the cities and for many months in a row.”

In part, the increases reflect the start of the spring selling season. The month-to-month prices aren’t adjusted for seasonal factors.

The S&P/Case-Shiller monthly index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. It measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The March figures are the latest available.
Over the past 12 months, prices have dropped nationally. But the declines have slowed. The 20-city index was 2.6 percent lower in March than in the same month last year. That’s better than the 3.5 percent year-over-year drop in February. And it’s the smallest annual drop since December 2010.

Other measures of home prices have also improved. But the S&P/Case-Shiller index uses a three-month moving average that could take longer to signal greater improvement.

“It might be the last of the closely followed home price figures to reflect a turning point,” said Jonathan Basile, an economist at Credit Suisse.

In April, sales of both previously occupied homes and new homes rose near two-year highs. Builders are gaining more confidence in the market. They’re breaking ground on more homes and requesting more permits to build single-family homes later this year.

Long-term mortgage rates have never been lower. The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.78 percent last week, the lowest since long-term rates began in the 1950s.

The pace of home sales remains well below healthy levels. Economists say it could be years before the market is fully healed.

Many people are having difficulty qualifying for loans. Or they can’t afford larger down payments required by banks. Some would-be buyers are holding off because they fear prices could keep falling.

A better job market has made more people at least open to buying. Employers have added 1 million jobs in the past five months, though the gains slowed in April and March. The unemployment has dropped a full percentage point since August, from 9.1 percent to 8.1 percent in April.

Economists estimate that employers will have added 160,000 jobs this month. The government will issue the May jobs report on Friday.