The Vegas Strip
The battle lines have been drawn - it's Barcelona versus Madrid… and perhaps even neither! The company behind a mega casino complex in Europe, Las Vegas Sands, already have similar projects in Macao and Singapore that have seen success. A european equivalent would be about half the size of the world-famous Las Vegas strip of casinos.
Plans by Las Vegas Sands for a giant Vegas style complex in Europe have got Spain's two biggest cities vying to be the chosen location. Having been attracted to Spain for its sunshine and popularity as a holiday spot, the company hope their dream of a Euro Vegas will come alive. And for these two cities, a 12-hotel, six-casino complex that has the potential to create a quarter of a million jobs at a time when unemployment is at record highs, the prospect of playing host sounds pretty damn good. So good in fact that key players within each city's tourist industry have been pulling out all the stops to show off their credentials.
Beach life in BCN
Barcelona's beaches are a big draw. A city built where the architecture all around let's your imagination run wild, it's a funky, creative and lively city to enjoy.
In Barcelona, celebrated chef Ferran Adria (behind El Bulli) cooked for the Las Vegas Sands delegation led by Sheldon Adelson. And in Madrid, the President of the regional government there has even said that she would overturn the smoking ban in casinos.
Initially undeterred by the Eurozone's economic worries, Leven said "My personal belief is that the crisis will end at some point, while this project will go on for many years. Our company expects to take advantage of an opportunity that we may not have again because of this situation". However, the project will be a no-goer if they do not get the investment required. The company are talking with around 30 banks from Asia and Europe for investment of up to 65% of the required amount for the first phase. Although still hopeful about getting the necessary investment, Leven admitted that if the economy got worse over the next six or seven months, they would not be able to do the project. Las Vegas Sands also want the government to change legislation including relaxing the smoking laws and a 10-year moratorium on gambling taxes. As much as there are those in each city who are hell-bent on doing what they can to secure the deal, there is already a large support base for the whole thing to be scrapped.
The project, if given the go-ahead, will take between 10 and 15 years to complete. Four complexes will be built with a total of 36,000 rooms, nine theatres, several shopping malls and golf courses as well as convention centres to attract large events and conference delegations. What with 250,000 potential jobs - it's a project both cities believe is worth fighting for. A decision is expected in September so watch this space!
Barcelona vs Madrid
Plaza Mayor in Madrid
Madrid is culture rich - with plenty of world class museums to enjoy and home to the flamenco, it's a city that's just as passionate as Barcelona.
It's a tough decision to make - both cities have lots to offer but in really quite different ways. See what we've loved in both cities in our posts on Barcelona and Madrid.
Beautiful and bold Barcelona
Walking in Gaudi's Barcelona
Getting fresh at La Boqueria Market
Bar hopping Barcelona with Primavera Sound
Barcelona - beach city
Dali and the lollipop
Views to dive for in Barcelona
Mad about Madrid
Palacio de Velazquez
Senegalese in multicultural Madrid
Madrid’s parks and gardens
Basking in Sorolla's light in Madrid
Rooftops with a view, Madrid
The Spanish Summer red
And if you're headed to either, we've got fantastic car hire deals throughout both cities. Learn more in Barcelona car hire and Madrid car hire.