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April 13, 2007 – Comments (8)

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Lots Of Games, No Gambling At Legoland's Las Vegas

Entire Story: http://cbs2chicago.com/watercooler/watercooler_story_089072043.html 

(AP) CARLSBAD, Calif. What happens in Legoland Las Vegas will stay in Legoland Las Vegas - if the designers have anything to say about it.

With just hours to go before the official grand opening of a $1-million-plus scale model of the famed Las Vegas Strip, builders spent Wednesday snapping and glue-gunning the final few thousand bricks into place on replicas of 10 casinos - from the smooth black Luxor pyramid to the towering 20-foot Stratosphere, complete with a tiny working roller coaster shuttling green-faced passengers up and down the central spire.

Piles of little 3- to 4-inch Lego figurines - including scantily clad women, men handing out girlie fliers and partygoers toting neon green hurricane drinks - were stacked in bins and on the roofs of the waist-high casino buildings awaiting placement.


"We wanted to make it kid-friendly," said Kristi Klein, the lead designer. "So there are lots of interactive elements for them, like the exploding Mirage volcano and the Treasure Island pirate ship."

Young Lego fans, drawn by the bright colors and all the moving parts, peered over yellow barricades that blocked off the new installation until its official opening Thursday.

The Las Vegas Miniland was built by a team of 15 designers in Carlsbad and at Lego headquarters in Billund, Denmark, over three years. It is the biggest scale model in the Legoland park, located 40 miles north of downtown San Diego, though the model Chrysler Building on the shiny New York New York casino is dwarfed by the plastic version rising a few yards away in the Lego Manhattan area.

8 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On April 14, 2007 at 9:37 AM, Zanibel17 (97.21) wrote:

Thanks for the pep talk on my Chase Credit Card post.

I read the Dean Foods entry and I see what you mean about how commonplace it is for companies to 'cannibalize' their futures to pump up their stock prices today.

You are absolutely right that those in charge of running companies right now are behaving very selfishly, seeming not to look for the long term and/or greater good.  I can only think of a couple of CEO's who are the exception to that rule, Whole Foods' Michael Strong and Delta Airline's Gerald Grinstine. 

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#2) On April 15, 2007 at 12:52 AM, Greshm (97.26) wrote:

It's rampant and I post and post on it here and elsewhere and get very few folks who seem to even bother with a reply to say they see it too.  Granted, I haven't gotten arguments from too many folks either.  But what I see all around us is paper being churned as fast as possible.  Like a financial game of Musical Chairs, and the question is, who is gonna be left standing without a seat? 

My bet?  The broad individual and passive investor community.  In other words, most of the public sitting in broad market funds in their 401(k)'s etc.  They likely won't even keep pace with inflation for another 10 years.  They haven't for the past 7!

Thanks for the reply, Greshm

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#3) On April 18, 2007 at 2:17 PM, TMFKopp (98.25) wrote:

Is greedy, short-term focused management new? I think this has been going on since outside managers were allowed in.

It's human nature, people are always (ok, almost always) going to work in their own self interest. The incentive schemes set up for managers do nothing more than promote solutions that inflate earnings in the short term but potentially make for a weaker business in the long term.

And I can't say that I'd do it differently if I was in that position - if they're going to pay me more for pumping up EBITDA, or EPS, or whatever measure they want to use, then that's exactly what I'd want to do.

And don't even get me started on the joke of options compensation. That anyone believes that compensating management with options will make them act like owners of the business is beyond me. 

As for the Lego issue - well, I love Vegas and I love Legos. Sounds like a match made in heaven. 

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#4) On April 18, 2007 at 3:23 PM, Greshm (97.26) wrote:

Oh, sorry...guess it is all just fine then, nevermind!

Your reply sounds to me like your acceptance of the status quo is complete.  Surprisingly jaded.  But this is an inaccurate forum so maybe I'm missing a nuance or sarcasm or something.  Or, I suppose, in this era, maybe the surprise is that I continued to be shocked at the apparent broad acceptance and still throw myself at the wall of complacency warning how these things usually end...

Gee, how 'bout we change those incentive schemes then?

How 'bout we re-invigorate regulators to do something more than look the other way and, instead, enforce?

How 'bout we demand that our Legislators do something proactive for a change so they don't intervene in the markets once they break-down and do something that only has unintended consequences and makes matters worse?

As far as introducing our next generation of Americans to gambling, one of our solid growth industries along with Prisons, I find your acceptance of it even more disheartening. 

Hey America!  Take your eight-year-old to LegoLand and begin getting them all plugged-into The Great American Gambling Culture!  Complete with all the colors and "including scantily clad women, men handing out girlie fliers and partygoers toting neon green hurricane drinks."

My Depression-Era Grandfather--a conservative Republican his entire life--is rolling in his grave at your reply here.  And my stomach just got very sour...

Respectfully but disappointed,

Greshm

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#5) On April 18, 2007 at 4:30 PM, TMFKopp (98.25) wrote:

My mild, but not-over-the-top sarcasm thrown in there must've thrown you off.

I was not disagreeing, nor was I saying that we should continue with the status quo. I was simply pointing out that's it's not something that's suddenly sprung up.

Speaking of Depression-era, part of what I was thinking of was parts of Leferve's "Stock Operator" and the "tips" that would be leaked out by board members.

When it comes to my own investing, I have just accepted that a major part of diligence is finding signs (something? anything?) that suggest that management can be trusted to work in my (long-term) favor.  

When it comes to a broader outlook, I'm all ears for ways to reform. What I do know is that as long as the board sets up a compensation scheme that says "you get paid X if you hit this EPS target," then the CEO is going to do whatever is necessary to get to that target -- even if it isn't in the long term best interest of the company. And when it comes to options, they simply incent management to drive up the stock price, not act like an owner of the business.

So I'm sorry if our signals got crossed, but I'm right there with you, I would love to see change come to corporate management.

I still like Legos and Vegas though. (unfortunately sarcasm has less punch in written form...) 

As a sidenote, your comment on me being jaded is noted. To some extent at least, you got me red handed there.

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#6) On April 18, 2007 at 6:25 PM, Greshm (97.26) wrote:

Matt,

Thanks so much for the detailed reply and explanation!  You just put a nice breeze back in my sails...

As for your humble and honest guilty-plea to 'beging jaded', you won't have to follow my posts too long to surely find me sounding just as pessimistic.  My genetic pre-disposition is to 'take the other side' [some would probably call it a character flaw I'm sure but my shrink doesn't go quite that far.  I suppose he just wants to keep getting paid for my visits ;>) ] and on rare occasions, I try to take a 'higher-road' and 'buck-up' my fellow jaded, realistic, pessimists.  This was my token silver-lining optimism for the week if not the month I suppose.  You or someone will catch me sounding just as cantankerous any moment now!

Thanks for taking the time, I really appreciate it,

Gresh

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#7) On April 18, 2007 at 6:56 PM, TMFKopp (98.25) wrote:

No problem!

The side effect is that I've now spent the better part of the day ruminating on CEO incentives. I guess I could've spent it doing something worse... like watching "Worlds Strongest Man" or "Family Guy" reruns.

Kopp 

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#8) On April 18, 2007 at 7:02 PM, TMFKopp (98.25) wrote:

No problem!

The side effect is that I've now spent the better part of the day ruminating on CEO incentives. I guess I could've spent it doing something worse... like watching "Worlds Strongest Man" or "Family Guy" reruns.

Kopp 

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