Perth losing a course, could gain another

Perth will soon lose one of its golf courses, but Australia’s premier casino mogul is thinking about building a replacement.

In late 2011, Western Australia’s government decided to build a 60,000-seat, all-purpose outdoor stadium on Burswood Park Golf Course. The 18-hole track will cease to exist by 2014, when construction on the stadium is scheduled to begin.

So far, at least, few tears have been shed over the loss. In fact, the only person who really seems to appreciate the value of Burswood Park is James Packer, and he has a vested interest in the golf opportunities available in eastern Perth.

The soon-to-be-departed golf course is adjacent to Packer’s Burswood Entertainment Complex, which includes the Burswood Casino, a convention center, a pair of hotels, a 20,000-seat indoor stadium, and places to eat and drink. Packer has owned the complex since 2004, and he has grand plans for its future.

In particular, Packer believes the complex can become a destination for Chinese gamblers and vacationers. To attract them, he’s renamed the casino (it’s now called Crown Perth), and he’s giving it a $750 million makeover. As part of the upgrade, he plans to build another hotel, and he’s acquired three private planes that will fly Asian high-rollers into Perth.

Packer has the money, the experience, and the connections that can put Crown Perth on par with other Australian vacation spots. He’s one of the nation’s richest people (Forbes estimates that he’s worth $4.4 billion), and his Crown, Ltd. controls Crown-branded casinos in Melbourne and Macau, not to mention other gambling — and entertainment-related holdings in the United Kingdom and the United States. His holdings also include Ellerston Golf Club in New South Wales, which features one of Australia’s top-rated golf courses.

Packer hasn’t yet said where the new golf course in Perth would be built, but he’s reportedly in “preliminary talks” with the state’s government about buying land adjacent to the entertainment complex.

This story originally appeared in the World Edition of the Golf Course Report, in a slightly different form. For a sample copy of the World Edition, call 301/680-9460 or write to WorldEdition@aol.com.

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