Adelson: Madrid project could be 'convention center to the world'

By Arnie Weissmann
Adelson and wife MiriamJERUSALEM — Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson today provided further details for his company’s plans to build a mega-resort in Madrid.

Las Vegas Sands’ “Euro Vegas” will have a dozen hotels with about 3,000 rooms each, including a total of about 2,400 meeting rooms, Adelson said in an onstage interview at the Jerusalem International Tourism Summit.

Adelson, who credited his previous success on his focus on the meetings, incentive, convention and events business, cited it as the foundation for his properties in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore, and said he will stick to the formula in his anticipated projects.

Euro Vegas “may become the convention center of the world," Adelson said. He added that the scale of the project — along with his "integrated resort" approach that includes meeting and hotel space adjacent to shopping, restaurants, entertainment and gaming — will provide "critical mass."

Las Vegas Sands had been pitching such a complex since last year without providing details on room count and stirred up a fair amount of political controversy by choosing Madrid over Barcelona for the project, which is set to open in 2017. Madrid government officials approved the project in February.

Earlier on Tuesday, Las Vegas Sands President Michael Leven had stressed the importance of public-private partnerships in a keynote speech, and Adelson expanded upon Leven's remarks, saying that resort areas such as the Madrid project requires "infrastructure — roadways, electricity, other utilities. And, of course, lower tax rates. The Spanish government has been very supportive."

Adelson also said he was working to put an integrated resort in South Korea, a project that had been briefly referenced by Korea Tourism Organization CEO Charm Lee in a preceding keynote.

"[Lee] is helping us bring [the opportunity] to the attention of the Korea government," Adelson said. "They already have a [Korean] casino that Stanley Ho (an Adelson rival) opened, but it's only for special people." (Ho operates a casino in North Korea.)

Adelson said that while China has guaranteed that gaming in Macau will be allowed for 50 years, he does not believe that it will permit casinos to be built on the mainland. So, to pursue the burgeoning Asian market, he hopes to expand into other countries. "We'd like Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and possibly Taiwan," he said.

And, he noted, he's not finished in Macau yet, reminding the audience that "the Parisian is the next project. A million-square-foot retail mall with a St. Regis with cooperative apartments."

Follow Arnie Weissmann on Twitter @awtravelweekly. 
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