Suncoast Hotel and Casino Land for Sale – Could the Resort Also Be Sold?
With the recently announced sale of the Rio (at long last, as I reported a couple of weeks ago), it might seem less than a big surprise that the Las Vegas media (print, broadcast, social) filled to overflowing this past week with reports of Boyd Gaming and the sale of one of its properties — Suncoast Hotel and Casino.
The big question, of course, is “Are the rumors true?”
Well, yes and no.
The 49-acre parcel of land upon which the Suncoast resort sits on is most definitely for sale, and if you have a spare $87 million, it could be yours (I’d do it, but I’m about $86.9997 million short at the moment).
But the Suncoast casino itself? No. Boyd Gaming appears to have no interest in selling.
Boyd Gaming Corp. (which acquired the Suncoast in 2004) still has 35 years left on its lease. A spokesman for Boyd Gaming recently told Las Vegas Review-Journal reporters that Boyd has nothing to do with the offer for sale of the property under the Suncoast Casino and that a change of its ownership would simply mean a change in the address to which they send their lease payments.
Originally conceived by Coast Resorts Inc. as the Sundance (the name was changed during construction to Suncoast after the Sundance Film Festival objected), the casino-resort has always been on leased land. It’s typically called a “ground lease” in which the owner of the land has no responsibilities for maintenance or other liabilities, which are typically borne by the lessee.
Incidentally, when it built the Suncoast, Coast Resorts had already shown success with other similar Vegas area casinos, including Gold Coast, Barbary Coast, and The Orleans.
But Summerlin marked a departure (in venue, at least) for Coast Resorts. Summerlin is considered by many (including its residents) to be the tony suburb of Las Vegas, a cut above the bedroom community of, say, Henderson to the south.
Instead of trying to fit its successful business plan into that tony upscale model, however, Coast Resorts decided the Suncoast would be an “affordable” alternative to other resort casinos in the area.
“We’ll definitely be a lower-priced facility” was what Harlan Braaten, president of Coast Resorts, told Las Vegas Sun reporters back when construction on the Suncoast began. “We’re not going to go after the high end.”
And the man chosen to serve as the Suncoast’s first general manager, David Ross, later echoed that sentiment. “Las Vegans don’t say, ‘Let’s go out and gamble,’” Ross told the Sun. “They say, ‘Let’s go out to dinner or to a movie or to see a performer.’”
The Suncoast certainly differed from its nearest competitor a mile north, which also opened in 1999. Known then as The Resort at Summerlin and touted as “Las Vegas’ first off-Strip luxury resort,” it featured exclusive access to nearby golf courses, as well as its own spas, pools, and ballrooms.
The Resort at Summerlin is now owned by Hotspur Resorts and is called JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort and Spa.
The Suncoast, on the other hand, chose to include a 16-screen cineplex, a 600-seat bingo hall, and a variety of restaurants more interested in serving steaks and comfort food than in serving the latest gustatory stylings of celebrity chefs.
And while Suncoast prospered over the years (under both Coast Resorts and Boyd Gaming managements), the Resort at Summerlin experienced less than stellar fiscal results, starting with cost overruns during construction and on through downswings in patronage that saw the hotel default on its mortgage payments several times over its first decade of existence.
Meanwhile, a mile to the south, Suncoast continued to prosper with its different perspective on patrons, gamblers, and hotel guests. And when Boyd bought Coast Resorts Inc. in 2004, it found it needed to change little about the Suncoast’s profile.
Boyd Gaming had already made a name for itself across the country with locals-oriented casinos. The Suncoast seemed readymade for Boyd’s approach, ensuring that the entertainment, the restaurants, and even the games and the gambling stakes available kept local pocketbooks in mind.
And Boyd’s continued growth suggests strongly that its “workin’ man” approach to hospitality and the casino business pays off.
Currently, Boyd operates 29 gaming and entertainment properties in ten states. That amounts to a total of 1.76 million square feet of casino space, about 38,000 slots and video poker machines, more than 900 table games — all served by more than 11,000 hotel rooms and 320 food and beverage dining choices.
So it seems safe to say for at least one more generation that Summerlin residents will have a local casino to call their own.