Wynn Atlantic City? Really?

There’s been speculation for months, but it seems that it’s gone to the next level: Steve Wynn has been physically present in Atlantic City, apparently talking turkey with politicos. From the Star-Ledger:

Steve Wynn, the man who was anointed king of the casino industry after he remade Las Vegas in the 1990s, wants to roll the dice on Atlantic City — again.

Wynn had a private audience Friday with Gov. Jon Corzine and state Sen. William Gormley at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City, and was later spotted walking along Atlantic Avenue with the powerful Republican senator from Atlantic County. The casino mogul was in town to advance his latest plan for a casino.

Corzine welcomed the idea of Wynn’s return to New Jersey, three government officials said, but he did not go into too much detail about the plans. Instead, Corzine told Wynn that Gary Rose, the governor’s economic development czar, would lead the discussions.

A call to Wynn’s office was not returned. Gormley, the casino industry’s top political ally, said Wynn is “a very nice guy. It was very nice to see him.”

“Obviously, people would like to see people like Steve Wynn in New Jersey,” Gormley said. “I would say it was a very positive meeting about New Jersey.”

Wynn’s return would further help turn Atlantic City into a tourist destination, attracting more of a younger crowd than quarter-toting seniors. While the opening of Borgata three years ago has brought signature restaurants, retail outlets and shows geared to a younger crowd, a Wynn casino would catapult the seaside resort into a higher level, analysts said.

“The Borgata has made it so that everyone realizes there is high-end demand there, that it exceeds what Borgata can provide,” said CIBC World Markets analyst Mike Liebman. “If he would build a Wynn Atlantic City, it would be phenomenal — the type of (venue) Atlantic City needs.”

It’s no mirage: Vegas’ Wynn again drawn to Atlantic City

People who read regularly know what a good idea I think this is. Atlantic City is a natural site for a Wynn casino, particularly because of the goodwill he’s still got banked there. People still talk about working for him twenty years ago, and he would be swamped with job applications from the start.

Even though they say they aren’t talking about Bader Field, I think that this is the only site that makes sense for him. He’s not going to get anything in the H-Tract (AKA Renaissance Pointe) near the Borgata or the future City Center East. The MGM Mirage parcel would have been the site of Beau Rivage, which Wynn planned in the late 1990s but never built in Atlantic City.

Bader Field gives Wynn two things: space (and lots of it), and a great location–he’ll get everyone driving down Albany Avenue (the Black Horse Pike) or taking the infamous Exit 2 off the Expressway. Actually, it’s not infamous, but it is my exit.

Bader Field is also surrounded by water (Lakes Bay, to be precise), which in Wynn’s design world is a plus. I can definitely see Wynn taking that natural water feature and doing something spectacular with it.

Take a look at a map, and you’ll see what I mean. For example, Google Maps shows exactly what I’m talking about: Bader Field area.

Imagine the main hotel tower somewhere around where the two runways intersect, with the casino in front of it, and public areas (restaurants, etc), behind it, facing the bay. You would basically have what Wynn did at WLV by building a mountain and water feature): an open but enclosed private space for guests.

I don’t know whether the Sandcastle (the baseball stadium) would stay or go, but even if it was left there, you’d have plenty of room for retail, showrooms, and parking. For example, if you scroll north, you can see that the Borgata would fit pretty easily in the parcel

The more I think about it, the more Bader Field makes sense. This could be a landmark project not only for Atlantic City, but for the entire casino industry.

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