Now, all that’s changed.
A source with knowledge of the SLS sale says news of the closure of Lucky Dragon’s casino and restaurants caused an immediate change of course in the negotiations, with the seller (Stockbridge Capital Partners) suddenly highly motivated to meet Meruelo’s demands and seal the deal.
It’s expected Meruelo Group will take over SLS Las Vegas in late Feb. 2018.
It seems Alex Meruelo is a non-nonsense negotiator, and once he and his team got into the specifics of the physical condition of SLS and its finances, they pushed for more favorable terms for the sale.
Initially, Stockbridge dug in, and Meruelo’s team pulled the plug on scheduled meetings, bringing the negotiations to a screeching halt.
Out of the sad news Lucky Dragon would close its casino came a renewed interest in pushing forward with the sale. Essentially, Stockbridge caved. (Don’t expect to see the word “caved” in the news release.)
While no sale price has been floated, we suspect Alex Meruelo got a solid value, and he’ll have ample resources to give the resort (formerly the Sahara) an overhaul, including a rebrand.
We trust the deal will include a happy ending for 60 Chinese investors who recently filed a lawsuit because SLS Las Vegas has never made a profit. (The casino has consistently made about 50% of original estimates. Translation: Welcome to the Big Hurt.)
At the time of the lawsuit, Stockbridge said it didn’t think the lawsuit would deter the sale, and they were apparently correct.
According to insiders, the ownership transition is likely to involve another personnel “purge.”
Another fascinating element of this sale is how it plays into the boom taking place on the north end of The Strip, a burst of activity that includes the start of construction of Wynn Paradise Park, actual progress at Resorts World, the sale of Fontainebleau and the Alon site, an approved Las Vegas Convention Center expansion and another development about to get a boost.
We hear project next door to SLS, All Net Resort and Arena, is going to get a surprising new (wait for it) cheerleader: Alex Meruelo.
Meruelo is expected to be a vocal proponent of All Net Resort and Arena, as it could become a draw along the lines of T-Mobile Arena, including the potential of housing (wait for it) an NBA team.
The tide is rising on the north Strip, and nobody wants to be the guy in a dingy. Or something.
Here’s us talking about all this on KLAS, because you can never have too much us.
Expect more news about the sale of SLS Las Vegas through official (yawn) channels soon.
Update (1/7/17): On the heels of our story, Meruelo Group is now featuring SLS Las Vegas on its Web site.
More to come!