Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2000 | 11:23 a.m.
MGM MIRAGE has put all of the rides at MGM Grand Adventures theme park up for sale, the strongest signal yet that the MGM Grand may close the popular attraction near the Las Vegas Strip.
In the past two weeks MGM MIRAGE put all of the park's rides and attractions up for sale through a California amusement park equipment broker. Yet the company, still considering a slate of options for redevelopment of the 19-acre park, is cautioning that a sale depends on price -- and that the closure of the park should not be considered inevitable.
"We are trying to see if there's a market for the equipment," MGM spokesman Alan Feldman said Tuesday. "We haven't made a final decision about anything yet."
Whether the park reopens next year depends on the bids MGM receives, Feldman said. If it receives a fair offer, Feldman said the equipment will be sold and the park will not reopen.
Though the company isn't saying what price it considers fair, the market value of the equipment set by Performance Rides International is $2.75 million. Items up for sale include a carousel, bumper boats, bumper cars, a family roller coaster and a log ride. The equipment is being sold as a package.
"There's been quite a few people looking at it (the equipment)," said Jim Palmer, co-principal of PRI. "It's very nice equipment, in very good condition."
Being sold separately is the popular "Sky-Screamer," a 220-foot-high swing that rockets harnessed riders through the air at up to 70 mph. The Sky- Screamer, billed by MGM Grand as the "world's largest skycoaster," carries a market value of $800,000, Palmer said.
Bidding will continue through Nov. 3, Palmer said. If sold, the equipment would be removed in January.
The park is located near the intersection of Harmon Avenue and Koval Lane, northeast of the MGM Grand and just north of the MGM Grand Convention Center.
It appears that the company is still actively considering a number of options at the site. One possibility could be the expansion of the 2-year-old convention center into the park land.
Another possibility, said Merrill Lynch gaming analyst David Anders, is the development of an entertainment venue as a joint venture with another company.
"That is some fairly attractive real estate, and a fairly big piece of real estate where you could do a number of things," Anders said.
In any case, analysts say, Grand Adventures isn't producing the kind of results that would warrant keeping it open.
"It hasn't been a money earner for them in the past, and for that reason, there's no purpose to having it," said Adam Steinberg, gaming analyst with CIBC World Markets. "As a public company, their No. 1 priority is to increase returns to shareholders. If they can find a better way to do that (at the theme park land), God bless them."
Development near the theme park is also raising its value, said David Atwell, a hotel-casino broker handling the sale of a 16-acre land parcel surrounding the nearby Polo Towers. A joint venture between Lakes Gaming Inc. and Las Vegas developer Brett Torino plans to develop the 16-acre parcel into a $700 million retail, hotel and entertainment complex.
"The development of the Aladdin, the pending development of the Harmon/Strip site (near Polo Towers) and the development of the (340-unit) Fairfield timeshare complex at Harmon (Avenue) and Koval (Lane) all contribute to higher values in the area," Atwell said.
Though the end of Grand Adventures now appears very much in the cards, Anders doesn't believe MGM MIRAGE will rush the sale process.
"If I'm a seller of anything, I'm only going to sell it at the right price," Anders said. "But you really want to make a decision before the park is scheduled to reopen in the spring."