10/19/2006 11:00PM

The good word on Boyd is spreading


It’s been a busy, and really good, last few weeks for Boyd Gaming. The icing on Boyd’s cake is that its signature property on the east side of Las Vegas, Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall, is getting millions of dollars’ worth of free national publicity.

This is due to the recently released album “Sam’s Town” by a local band called The Killers. Sam’s Town, the album, debuted at No. 2 in Billboard’s Top Ten. The Killers are in the domestic part of a worldwide tour and is selling out concert halls from coast to coast. So Sam’s Town figures to get a lot of notoriety wherever The Killers play.

Aside from that, Boyd Gaming has been in the Las Vegas Review-Journal business section practically on a daily basis. The biggest splash came three weeks ago in a land swap with Harrah’s. Harrah’s obtained the Barbary Coast casino on the corner of Flamingo and the Strip in return for a 24-acre parcel north of the Stardust, which Boyd also owns. The Barbary Coast was probably the most coveted 1.8 acres of real estate in Las Vegas.

The deal for the Barbary Coast will likely gain regulatory approval in early 2007. In the meantime, the Barbary Coast’s five-star restaurant, Michael’s, is also making headlines. It is moving south of the Strip to the South Coast, which on Wednesday, Oct. 25, will officially become the South Point. Boyd traded the South Coast to Michael Gaughan for his Boyd stock, which was worth nearly $600 million. Gaughan will own the newly minted South Point free and clear with no debt service, and now he’ll regain control of his favorite restaurant.

As for the land swap with Harrah’s, Boyd gains a 24-acre parcel that will expand to the north its $4-billion Echelon Place development.

The Stardust truly was a legendary property in Las Vegas. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Casino,” it’s a fairly accurate depiction of the early Stardust history. The Stardust is scheduled to cease operations on Nov. 1 and soon after will be the next Las Vegas casino implosion.

I’ve been following the Boyd stock, which bottomed out at $34 a share right before the Harrah’s land swap. It zoomed up to $42 last week and was at $40 on Friday morning.

One final thought. If you’re the marketing director for Sam’s Town, you should send a Christmas card to The Killers. Better yet, if the band ever asks for a comp, let them have it.

Richard Eng is the turf editor for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and author of “Betting on Horse Racing for Dummies.”