MGM Describes Its Vision For National Harbor Casino
OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — The CEO of MGM Resorts International said Friday that if Maryland voters agree Tuesday to expand legalized gambling, his company would build a luxurious and architecturally unimposing casino and hotel near the nation’s capital, not a blocky neon-lit behemoth.
“There would be zero neon, and no marquee sign,” said Jim Murren, MGM Resort International’s chief executive officer, outlining his plans for a building that he says would respect the environment next to the Potomac River in Prince George’s County.
“I want something elegant and white and understated and not something that is garish or flamboyant,” Murren said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Murren described a building with lots of glass, brick and stone.
“It would be modern,” he said. “It would be a modern contemporary tower of which there are so many now that are being built in the D.C. area with a podium that is respectful to National Harbor.”
The $800 million hotel and casino would include a tower rising 16 to 20 stories with a much smaller hotel than the existing Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at the National Harbor development, Murren said. He described a hotel of about 250 rooms.
“These will be luxurious rooms — all of them — from singles to suites to mega suites,” Murren said. “We’ll certainly have the highest average daily rate in National Harbor in terms of room rates. They’ll be designed from an interior perspective by very famous interior designers. We’ve worked with so many, and it will be at a very-high end.”
The Maryland General Assembly passed gambling legislation in an August special session, but voters get the final say. The legislation includes a reduction in taxes for three existing casinos and two that are planned, partly to make up for the added competition of the proposed sixth casino. All of the casinos would be able to have table games, if voters approve.
Because voters have the final say, MGM has been locked in an expensive advertising war with a competing casino company, Penn National Gaming Inc. MGM has spent nearly $30 million on advertising. Penn National, which has a casino just over Maryland’s border in West Virginia, has spent about $42 million opposing the ballot question.
If the ballot question passes, the casino could not open until mid-2016. However, Murren said MGM would begin hiring some of the 4,000 people who would work at the resort in earnest in 2014. Murren said MGM already has been reaching out to universities and community colleges to describe what sorts of jobs would be available.
“It takes two or three years to establish this universe of potential candidates, because in this job market we know we’re going to have a lot more applicants than we can fill,” Murren said. “We’ll have thousands of people applying for these 4,000 jobs, and we want to make sure that we get the best candidates and as local as possible.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)