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Wynn Resorts board gives nod for $1.5 billion lagoon-theme park in Las Vegas, stock pops 4% on earnings beat

  • Paradise Park would be adjacent to the company's resort complex off the Las Vegas Strip

  • Park would feature a 20-acre lagoon in the gambling city

  • The development would include a white sand waterfront, additional convention space and new tower plus entertainment attractions

Wynn Resorts plans to start construction as early as December on the first phase of its $1.5 billion Paradise Park, creating a white sand lagoon waterfront featuring attractions in Las Vegas, the company said Tuesday.

"We've got all these great ideas that are going into this lagoon and this beach front property," said Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn during the resort giant's first-quarter earnings call.

The new park was first disclosed last year at its analyst day event but Wynn said Tuesday on the call the company's board of directors had now approved the project and indicated construction will start in six or seven months.

Wynn laid out the first phase of the plan, which includes building a lagoon, boardwalk, new convention space and food services. That said, the company hasn't indicated just how many phases of the park development there will ultimately be.

Paradise Park would be located on a nearly 130-acre golf course property owned by the company and adjacent to Wynn's existing casino resort in the famed gambling city.

The casino mogul said Tuesday the park will feature a "20-odd acre lagoon in the middle of it and then we would build our meeting space, leave room for our new tower that could be a couple of thousand rooms."

The aim is to appeal not just to the lucrative convention market but to families by offering a Disney-like park attraction off the Las Vegas Strip. Last year, the CEO indicated the waterfront would feature cabanas, new restaurants and the lagoon would have "a great show like they have at Disneyland only bigger."

Wynn said another reason to build the park is to deploy capital.

"We have no better use for our money," he said. "We keep $1.5 billion or $2 billion in the parent company and this would allow us to take the most conservative, but the most dynamic approach to creating this."

Moreover, Wynn said the park and waterfront would provide a "tremendous uptick in the value of our surrounding real estate."

The company is expected to have a media event in the next few months to provide more details about the project.

Meanwhile, the company beat Street estimates for the first quarter. Here are quarter highlights:

  • Adjusted EPS $1.24 per share versus EPS of 93 cents expected by Thomson Reuters estimates.
  • Revenue: $1.48 billion, versus $1.38 billion expected by analysts.

Wynn said its adjusted property earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) was up 42 percent in the quarter, reflecting contributions from its new Wynn Palace in Macau and a stronger performance from its Las Vegas operations. However, its older Wynn Macau property showed a decline during the same period.

In addition to the company's Paradise Park in Las Vegas, Wynn also is building the Wynn Boston Harbor resort outside in Massachusetts and expects to open the complex in mid-2019.

The Boston-area property will feature a hotel, waterfront boardwalk, meeting and convention space, casino space as well as other attractions. It estimates the total budget on the Massachusetts project to be approximately $2.4 billion, and through March 31 it said nearly $607 million in total project costs were incurred.

Wynn shares were up more than 4 percent in after-hours trading Tuesday.