Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Gaylord Entertainment officially checks out: Bye-bye, Aurora

Six months ago Gaylord Entertainment Co. made its case to Colorado, explaining why a proposed 1,500-room, $824 hotel/resort/convention complex in Aurora was a good deal -- good enough to justify the state offering big tax incentives. Today, the company that made that pitch no longer exists.

On May 31 -- just two weeks after the Colorado Economic Development Commission agreed to make sure the Aurora hotel project would get more than $80 million in sales-tax rebates over thirty years under the Regional Tourism Act -- Gaylord announced that it was getting out of the large-scale project development business altogether, turning over its four existing resort properties to Marriott International as part of a $210 million cash deal, and restructuring the company as a real estate investment trust.

Shareholders approved that deal last week, and as of today, Gaylord Entertainment Co. is no more. It has a new name -- Ryman Hospitality Properties -- and new corporate structure, and will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol RHP. The existing hotels are now being managed by Marriott.

Ryman will be led by former Gaylord chairman and CEO Colin Reed, who was in Denver last March to make the pitch to Colorado officials. "Frankly," he told the committee, "you have a gap in the meetings we go after."

No longer. Aurora, which had authorized $300 million in incentives for the project, is now left with a major gap on the deal, and is looking for a developer who might be able to pick up where Gaylord left off; the deal. And although the project developer initially had just 120 days to work out the details with the state, that deadline has been extended another 120 days, to January.

But Gaylord Entertainment has officially checked out.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the National Western Stock Show -- which had been looking at relocating -- is still kicking up dust in Denver. Learn more in "National Western Stock Show corrals the Rodeo All-Star Weekend."