David Chow Tears Down Macau Theme Park For CasinoJuly 31, 2013 3:00 pm
Back in 2006, Macau tycoon David Chow completed construction of a multi-million dollar theme park in the Chinese enclave, complete with a mock Chinese fishing village, a Roman Colosseum and a volcano that spewed artificial lava. Mr Chow’s vision was to help make Macau an international tourist resort and an attractive venue for families to spend their vacations. As Mr Chow explained at the time:
“I don’t want Macau to be referred to as Las Vegas in Asia. This is a different kind of destination: here we have culture and a vastly different market.”
Now, however, David Chow has backtracked on his failed theme park and is in the process of tearing it down to make way for a casino resort, while also offering family attractions, such as an opera house and dinosaur museum. In July, Mr Chow’s Macau Legend Development Ltd., subsequently sought to raise US$788 million in an initial IPO to finance part of the development, although he ended up raising $283 million, instead. This disappointing outcome may have been due to the reluctance of investors already burned by Mr Chow’s theme park to invest in his latest big dream, such as Merrill Lynch and U.S. hedge funds Och Ziff and TPG-Axon who only managed to recoup a third of the $400 million they ploughed into his theme park venture.
In the end, it seems that Macau’s visitors favoured the air conditioned luxury of the resorts’s numerous casinos over the heat and pollution of an outdoor theme park. All the same, David Chow still believes the project was far from being a failure and recently commented: “We were never wrong. For me it was a park. We are not making money there. It was a gift to the society. Now we are going to build the park into a resort.”
It remains to be seen whether Mr Chow’s latest casino resort venture will take off, but the one time politician certainly has the contacts to make it work. Nevertheless, he has numerous formidable challenges standing in his way as he will be competing for custom with the mega casinos, including Stanley Ho’s SJM Holdings, Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp and Steve Wynn’s Wynn Resorts Ltd.