Billionaire Phil Ruffin announced on Tuesday that his bid to purchase The Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip for $1.3 billion was rejected by MGM Resorts International.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Ruffin has been rumored to have been interested in the property ever since he acquired the 2,885-room Treasure Island from MGM for $775 million in 2009. The Treasure Island and The Mirage are connected by an above-ground tram, making this a logical area for Ruffin to expand his Las Vegas holdings.
It appears unlikely there will be any future bids, since Ruffin appeared most interested in the land and the convention center, rather than operating the property under lease. Ruffin mentioned, "The value is in the land," and it doesn't appear MGM is willing to part with this coveted piece after a restructuring took place on Oct. 29 whereby a new Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) was formed to manage 10 properties, including The Mirage.
The REIT was created under the name MGM Growth Properties, and it is presumed to have assumed approximately $4 billion in debt from the parent company as part of the restructuring. MGM Growth Properties will maintain ownership of the various properties it is managing, while leasing them back to MGM Resorts International to handle the operations.
Despite the rejection, Ruffin plans to keep his solid relationship with The Mirage, stating that, "We have a good relationship with The Mirage and we want to keep that. [MGM Resorts Chairman] Jim [Murren] wrote us a nice letter thanking us for the offer, but I didn't keep the letter."
The 79-year-old businessman began his foray in Las Vegas when purchasing the New Frontier Hotel and Casino, and renaming it The New Frontier, the name the property operated under starting in 1955. The property has had a long and storied tradition dating back to the launch of the Pair-O-Dice nightclub in 1936. Various name changes occurred over the years, including being renamed the 91 Club in 1939 before being re branded once again into the Hotel Last Frontier in 1941.
The hotel is well known for its famous acts throughout the years, including the first appearance by Elvis Presley in Sin City in 1956, the final appearance in Las Vegas by Diana Ross and The Supremes in 1970, and the origins of Siegfried and Roy in Nevada in 1981. Siegfried and Roy continued to appear at The Mirage until 2003 when Roy Horn was famously bitten by one of the white tigers featured during a performance in 2003.
After a few plans to build something different were set aside, the casino was demolished in 2011 before the property was purchased by Crown Resorts and Oaktree Capital Management in 2014 who announced plans earlier this year to build a new resort dubbed the Alon Las Vegas.
In addition to being owning one of Sin City's premier properties, Ruffin is also known for his occasional appearances in high stakes poker games. He famously appeared on the seventh season of GSN's High Stakes Poker. Here is a look at comedian and poker enthusiast Norm McDonald announcing a hand where Ruffin called a bluff to ship a $319,000 pot against David "Viffer" Peat.
Lead image courtesy of Forbes.