Tokyo: Romancing The Arena

Las Vegas Sands Corp. President and COO Robert Goldstein brought some star power to Tokyo, where casino operators are trying to woo officials and locals with promises of integrated resorts – and visions of new sports and concert venues.  

AP Photo / Shizuo Kambayashi

Las Vegas Sands President Robert Goldstein and Irving Azoff at a news conference in Tokyo Oct. 4.

With Goldstein for an Oct. 4 news conference were Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh and soccer superstar David Beckham on the celebrity side, and Azoff MSG Entertainment CEO Irving Azoff and Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke on the business side.

Leiweke said he hopes to build an arena in Japan that would be on par with Madison Square Garden and attract major sporting events.

“The NBA needs those kinds of facilities to make that kind of trip worth it,” Leiweke said.

Walsh said that while he loves playing Japan, the major venues have not kept up with the times. 

“The logistics to make a good performance in Japan are just too much. It’s just too hard,” Walsh said. “As an artist that’s the way we feel. We feel sad because it’s too hard to come here.”

The major casino operators are making pitches in Japan, which is inching closer toward legalized gambling. Late last year lawmakers approved a long-awaited law on integrated resorts, the first major hurdle in allowing casinos to set up shop, which is likely still years away.   Possible cities for such integrated resorts include Tokyo, Osaka and Yokohama.

Goldstein began the news conference by offering condolences to those lost in the Las Vegas shooting, where at least 59 lives were lost and hundreds more wounded during the Route 91 Harvest festival on the Las Vegas Strip.

“Our hearts are very heavy in Las Vegas and we are hoping for the best we can for the future for Las Vegas,” Goldstein said. “Our team there is working with government officials and with the people on the ground in Las Vegas to hope for a speedy recovery. It was a very difficult and tragic situation.”