tv Titans at the Table Bloomberg May 16, 2015 1:30pm-2:01pm EDT
betty: tonight on "titans at the table" we will be talking football and the big apple. >> there will be a coin toss right here. betty: with the man who is bringing it all together. jonathan tisch, co-chairman of the loews corporation and co-owner of the new york giants. he was born and raised in a new york family. in 1959, his family branched out and bought loews theaters.
today, loews corporation has billions of dollars in assets that generate $15 billion in annual revenue with interest from everything in hotels, insurance, oil and gas. jonathan tisch runs the company and is also the chairman of loews hotels. >> he took this area and made it guest friendly. betty: true to his roots, he completed a massive luxury renovation of a flagship hotel that is near and dear to his heart. tisch: i grew up in this hotel. betty: but that work has not stopped him from writing books. you get about six hours of sleep? tisch: 5-6 hours of sleep. you will get an e-mail from me at 3:00 in the morning. betty: despite a demanding schedule, he makes it to every giants home game. i caught up with him at his team's home turf -- metlife stadium. betty: it is incredible to be out on the field. what do you think about it? how does it make you feel? tisch: pretty amazing. i think of my father and what he went through to afford us this opportunity to be partners in the giants.
betty: in 1991, bob tisch, john's father, fulfilled a lifelong dream to own his own sports team when he bought a 50% stake in the giants for a reported $80 million. today, the team is valued at an estimated $1.3 billion. it is co-owned by two families. if loews corporation was a team, a football team, what is your position? tisch: probably the coach. i'm not there day-to-day. very much true in the hotel business. i can sit in my office on madison avenue, but i'm not checking people into the rooms or making the beds. in that regard, i guess i would be the coach. understanding what is in your game plan -- have the bigve to view. tisch: the playbook, and then you have to articulate it, and then you have to perform it.
it ain't easy. in the hotel business, it's 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you have to get it right every time. betty: i know your family is a big football family. why do you like football? tisch: i like watching football because you never know what will happen. a play can change the course of a game. a pass can be intercepted or a runner can fumble. you never know what is going to happen. it is exciting. the fans get involved. people are aspirational when it comes to their players. that actually puts more pressure on us to ensure that the product we are putting on at metlife stadium is the best that it can be. because with technology today, it is very easy to sit in your man cave, woman cave, and watch a game. but we want people to come out and experience it live, to sit in the stadium -- 82,500 of them. and really say that it was an enjoyable experience, and yeah, maybe i sat in traffic and maybe the snowflakes fell on my head, but that is all part of the nfl experience. betty: coming up -- tisch: some of the greatest games have been played in
betty: filling all 82,500 seats at metlife stadium is no easy task. the stadium is in east rutherford, new jersey. just across the hudson river from new york. metlife opened its doors four years ago. and jonathan tisch was instrumental in getting it built. it's the only stadium that houses two nfl teams -- the giants and the jets. it is also the largest nfl stadium in terms of seating capacity. all of those seats came with a hefty price tag. tisch: this is an amazing building. it cost $1.6 billion to build. and people say to us -- why is there no roof on it? that would have been another $400 million. it is important to note that there is not a dime of public money in this building. the whole thing is privately financed. betty: all private. tisch: all private. it was quite a remarkable accomplishment.
betty: the stadium will be in the spotlight in early february when it plays host to the most-watched sporting event in the world -- the super bowl. tisch: super bowl is a great opportunity for this region, for new york and new jersey. this is a super bowl of a lot of firsts. this is the first time that the super bowl is being hosted by two teams, the jets and the giants. this is the first time it is being hosted by two states and one big city. this is the first time the game is being played in a northern city in a building without a roof. betty: bringing the super bowl to the new york region has been a decade-long effort for tisch. it all started after 9/11, when he began pitching the idea to nfl and local politicians as a way to jumpstart the stuttering economy. but it wasn't until the metlife stadium was built in 2010 that the idea caught on. tisch: the nfl owners like to bring the game to some of the
newer stadiums to highlight them. so the world can see the great facilities. betty: millions of people around the world will be watching super bowl xlviii. but perhaps no venue is better prepared or staffed for an event like this. 20 times a season, metlife undergoes a transformation. a staff of about 20 takes two days to change it from one team to the other -- from jets green to giants blue, or vice versa. and that includes the removable endzone. the turf from one team is rolled up and stored under the stands, and the other team's turf is rolled out. special end zones will be rolled -- unveiled for the broncos and seahawks. that is about all nfl is saying. what are some of of the cosmetic changes being made at the stadium? tisch: you will find out about some of the cosmetic changes when i find out. betty: you don't know what the stadium will look like? tisch: i know we are standing on the 50 yard line. that is not moving. [laughter] tisch: i know on february 22, at 6:28, there will be a coin toss right here. betty: together with the owner of of the jets, woody johnson, tisch is the cochairman of the super bowl host committee. that means making sure that this stadium he helped build is ready
for the big day. it's a lot of responsibility. what keeps you up at night? tisch: what keeps me up at night is the scale. the sheer number of things that have to get done, the sheer number of issues that we have tried to think of, to plan for. power is a big issue. and remember, there was a blackout that affected the game at the mercedes superdome. betty: yes. can you guarantee no power failure? tisch: so much work has gone into ensuring that there will not be a power failure. there is back up, there are contingency plans. they're going to be generators -- there are going to be generators on-site. you never say never. you cannot promise 100%. we have done a lot of work. due to the security perimeter that is going to be be built around metlife stadium, we're losing half of our parking spaces. so we are trying to call this the first public transportation super bowl. we are working very closely with
the mta, with new jersey transportation authority to ensure that buses and trains will transport people to the games. betty: i can just hear new yorkers. and you know new yorkers, they will say, what? i'm getting out of the city during super bowl. what do you say to that? tisch: my first piece of advice is do not to leave town. there will be a lot fun, some excitement. betty: they will say you know, the traffic, the hassle, how will i get to work? tisch: but they are going to say that anyway. new yorkers do complain. but new yorkers are very generous of spirit. new yorkers appreciate when something special is taking place. betty: another problem -- mother nature. tisch: there actually had to be a rule change in terms of us being able to bid on getting the super bowl. there was a rule that it had to be, if it was an open, exposed stadium, it had to be in a city where the average mean temperature the day of the game is above 50 degrees. that is clearly not the case in february in the new york and new jersey area.
betty: so they changed that temperature rule. tisch: the temperature rule, for this particular game, it went away. betty: the stadium has a team of 1000 at the ready to clear snow from the stands with a network of chutes. you don't murder -- dave duernberger is the vice president of facilities operations and he says they are ready for the snow. dave: with the snowmelter on the 300 concourse, and one down here on the field. we have a 600-ton snowmelter we can use in the parking lot. they have a jet engine inside. the heat that is produced from the jet engines is what melts the snow. tisch: it is a very big operation. betty: but tisch says it is a big operation. no matter what the weather, it will be a great day. tisch: some of the greatest games in the history of the nfl have been played in inclement weather. it may snow, it may rain, but it could also be 45 degrees and gorgeous. super bowl xlviii at metlife stadium is going to be very exciting. we want to make sure that the region knows that the super bowl has been here.
betty: the regency hotel at the corner of park avenue and 61st street has been an institution since the day it opened back in 1963. in january, to celebrate the grand reopening, jonathan tisch, chairman of loews hotel, was on hand to welcome the guests back. just a few weeks before it opened, we met tisch for a sneak peak at the hotel. workers were buzzing around putting the finishing touches on the lobby. tisch: the loews regency hotel is our flagship.
50 years ago, my father and uncle opened this hotel. it was an integral part of how they wanted to build loews hotels, which today has morphed into the loews corporation. the hotel business is at the root of where our family started going back 75 years ago with hotels in new jersey. so this hotel has become very important to the image of loews hotels. it has become very important to the bottom line of loews hotels. i grew up in this hotel. since i was 12, i have been walking the corridors and the back of the house and know many of our workers who have been here, coworkers have been here since the beginning. betty: you stayed at this hotel yourself. tisch: emotionally, there is a connection. physically, there is a connection. and financially, there is a connection to loews hotels, loews corporation, to the family. betty: tell me, what was the most difficult part of renovating this hotel?
tisch: the challenge we faced was once we got into that building and went behind a wall, i came to the realization that my father and uncle, god bless them, they did not spend a lot of money when they were building it 50 years ago. we found some conditions that made it challenging to rebuild at the pace that we were hoping to. betty: you mean structural issues? tisch: structural. and because of super bowl, we knew that we had an end date we do not want to go beyond. we had to scramble. betty: you have spent $100 million. which is the most you have ever spent on any renovation. why so much? tisch: we felt $100 million was necessary to bring the regency back to a place that befits the neighborhood, but also the vision that we have for this hotel. the $100 million mark also not only includes the rooms and the corridors, and the new restaurant, and the new fitness center, and the salon, and the new lobby, but we replaced every window. the windows were 50 years old. and our guests are going to appreciate that. we're looking to raise rates 20% to 25%.
which is not a small amount, but we think the products and service will warrant that rate increase. we totally took this area and made it guest friendly. betty: the renovation costs bloomed from an initial estimate of just $35 million to the $100 million. but tisch says it is all part of his plan to grow the brand and boost the image of all 21 of his loews hotels. how long before you can make the money back from the money you put into it? tisch: it's hard to look at a real roi in terms of every dollar and every penny. because not only do we want to certainly get the economic returns, but what this hotel means to loews hotels from an emotional standpoint, you can't really quantify. we had to make a commitment to company that the flagship hotel, a block from our office, in the heart at new york city, is at a standard that represents the rest of our organizations. because we are continuing to grow. in the last 18 months, we bought
three hotels. we bought a hotel in hollywood, california, we bought one in boston, and one in washington, d.c. markets we wanted to be in. we have two hotels under construction from scratch. one in chicago which will open in february over 15. .- on the 15th another hotel in orlando. our fourth hotel in orlando is on the ground at universal studios. it comes back to new york city. the focal point of the u.s. travel and tourism industry. you could probably make the same statement for the world travel and tourism industry. we want to have a property we are proud of. that will also make a good return on this investment. betty: any return on investment for a hotel depends on visitors to the city. tisch has worked closely with two mayors to improve new york city's gritty image. he helped kick off the new york times square makeover. and he was instrumental in the campaign to bring tourists back after 9/11. so far, his efforts seem to be working. new york had 54 million visitors in 2013. and the regency sold out for super bowl weekend about a month before it even opened.
but it is not just about keeping hotels full. tisch says tourism is critical for the new york economy. what is it really about? tisch: it is about jobs. it's about good jobs. it's about the ability for visitors to come and spend money so we that can hire more new yorkers. if you look in new york city alone, 330,000 people are making a living in some aspect of travel and tourism. and we are also reaching out to the right visitors. that international traveler is extremely important. the international traveler stays longer and they spend more money. betty: tisch is hoping the locals will return as well. since 1970, the regency has been home to the power breakfast. business leaders and politicians would convene every morning over coffee to get their day started. tisch: if you look at the history of the power breakfast, it was started 45 years ago by my father. betty: your father and your uncle, right? tisch: it was my father and my uncle. these were the times when new york city was in very dark financial shape.
and the leaders of the city at the time came together to talk about how to save new york city. dan -- and -- betty: and they did it right here? tisch: well because, everyday they would say, where should we meet? my father said, it is a bit selfish on my part because all i have to do is take an elevator, but let's meet at the regency. [laughter] tisch: that is literally where the term -- in the mid-70's, the term power breakfast started. we will re-establish the regency as the home of the power breakfast, the place where people want to come to see and be seen. betty: coming up, what kind of a hotel room does $100 million buy? what is the most expensive part of this room? tisch: the bathroom. the bathrooms are very, very expensive. ♪
newly renovated rooms. tisch: room 1920 of the regency hotel. betty: you have designed pretty much -- or you picked out almost everything in this room. tisch: i can tell you stories behind the carpet, behind the finish on the dresser, behind the artwork, behind the pillows. so, you start with carpet. you have a color way, a color idea. they will come in and they will maybe present a gray scheme. it will be presented as a warm grey scheme and then a cool gray scheme. betty: this is what? tisch: this is a cool gray scheme. betty: the regency has 380 rooms, each one brand-new, with almost all of the design elements selected personally by tisch himself. the most expensive part -- the marble bathrooms. tisch: it is because the bathroom has become a point of competition. a lot of the new hotels being built in town have big bathrooms and they sparkle.
we wanted the bathrooms to -- betty: i noticed there was a television. tisch: we have televisions in the mirrors. every bathroom has a tv in it. betty: one thing, jonathan, i have to ask is do you test the mattresses out? tisch: i have tested many. my wife and i have stayed in this hotel. is it comfortable? betty: it's pretty comfortable. do you do this in every one of your hotels? you pick every piece of fabric -- tisch: we have lots of renovations. we bought a hotel in hollywood, california. we finished up a $30 million renovation. in nashville, tennessee, where we have loew's nashville, we just spent $12 million on a new lobby and restaurant. we redid all of the guest bathrooms. i picked every fabric. betty: what is it like? you walk into a room and say yes, yes, no, no? tisch: i will sit there with designers, and they will show lots of different fabrics. and i will say, can you make this a little greener? can you make this bluer? can this be darker? lighter? literally we will be in their offices or they will be in our
offices throwing around different fabric swatches. betty: do you have an idea that this is what the room will look like? these are the color schemes? tisch: i did, but it took us a few iterations to get to the point that we as a company were happy. when people ask me what i would be doing if i wasn't in the hotel business, i really quickly admit that i'm a frustrated architect. betty: so you love this stuff? tisch: i do. i really do. betty: some people would go nuts having to make all of those decisions. tisch: i love it. and i get excited about what we can create. betty: and it is a good thing tisch likes picking out the wallpaper because the lifespan of soft goods in hotels, things like pillows, carpets, chairs, drapes, is only about six years. a major renovation like this is a major gamble for tisch. and he admits it will take some time before he knows if his role of the dice was worth it. tisch: you make decisions that you hope are right, and you will not know the answer for six months to a year to see how your revenue numbers start to come in. and believe me, i'm losing a lot of sleep over it.
and my wife said to me, what are you worried about? i said -- what happens if no one likes it? betty: he might have reason to worry. the hotel industry is a fickle one. the industry tends to rise and fall with economy, and the big chains dominates. tisch: the hotel business today, because there are so many good operators, there are lots of companies that are very good at what they do. there are lots of options. if somebody checks out here and they see that they pay a couple of hundred bucks and were not happy, already have that all havehave -- although you have to do is walk out the front door on park avenue and take a right and there are some great hotels to the south, there are some great hotels to the north. and now with social media, you have to find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition and offer a product and service people can relate to and feel good about using. betty: but specifically, how do you make sure that loews differentiates itself from a marriott or a hilton?
or any of the smaller operators? tisch: when our new hotels are done, we will have 21 properties. we are much smaller than the biggest names in the business. we could be competing against a hyatt and the fairmont. we could be competing against the four seasons or ritz-carlton. why people want to come back here is about the service. got -- that they say, betty, welcome back to the loews regency hotel. betty: it is a welcome tisch is extending for many this year, including nfl fans, new york tourists, and most importantly, his regency hotel guests. for tisch, a lot is riding on a simple hope -- that they enjoy the new hotel as much as he does. tisch: it is our best shot at it. and we spent $100 million to reinvent the loews regency hotel. but always coming back to the basics of great service, but now in a new box. ♪
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