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Sayonara: Riviera To Be Sold, Demolished

By Chuckmonster on Tuesday, 17th February 2015 11:44am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 27


I guess the Jetsons lied.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has agreed to purchase the 60 year old Riviera Hotel & Casino from Starwood subsidiary Riviera Holdings for $182.5 million dollars.

The property will close permanently in August and be demolished to make way for an expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center called Las Vegas Global Business District.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority attempting to purchase the entirety of land between The Strip and Paradise Road north Convention Center Drive.

The owners of the Peppermill state they have a new 12 year lease and aren't going anywhere.

As funky as Riviera was, it makes me sad to see another of the great Las Vegas casino properties fall by the wayside.

Losing the Riviera puts even more downward pressure on SLS in the near term, as there will be no curious Riviera guest foot traffic to feed Umami Burgers. Could Circus Circus be next?

Does it seem weird that a business that is funded by room tax would buy and demolish a casino to build a convention/business center that will be a direct competitor to casino convention halls? I wouldn't be surprised if some casino owners with large convention space holdings start protesting... specifically Las Vegas Sands.

Tagged: riviera   sayonara   lvcva   


Comments & Discussion:

I don't think Las Vegas Sands will protest too much, as they do tend to benefit from the major conventions held at the LVCC. One of the reasons why the Sands Expo was built was because the Las Vegas Convention Center at the time was not big enough to handle the COMDEX Fall show (The owners of COMDEX happened to have bought the Sands in 1989, with Sheldon Adelson being one of those owners.).

Additional convention space will benefit both the LVCC and the Sands Expo. Las Vegas is a major convention market and as it currently stands, some conventions end up elsewhere because of the lack of available convention space for their desired dates. Las Vegas competes with a number of cities for conventions as the LVCC is one of the largest in the country and these expansions are needed to keep up with their competitors. It may put the long planned expansion of the Sands Expo on ice permanently though. While CES is not as huge as it used to be, it's still a big enough convention to require using both the LVCC and the Sands Expo as well as some convention and hospitality spaces at places like the Westgate and even Wynn.


Look; the Riv is beat. The customers can be, ahem, eclectic. The place has an odd odor just past the cage. The check-in area screams 1986. The brass canopy over the main gaming area has 3/4s of it's candelabra bulbs unscrewed to save money.

I loving say it's "Where hope goes to die..."

But, it's low-roller heaven. I was having a bad beat in Vegas on one trip, and spent three hours playing $5 Blackjack with the surliest dealer I've ever met (Per him, he opened Wynn, and was fired as a signer of the "tip-pocketing" scandal in the casino. Kinda hated The Steve a little.), in a heavily stained polyester shirt. My cocktail waitress, I'm pretty sure, opened the joint.

Yeah. All that. And I had a friggin' blast.

It's one of the last low-roller joints on the strip. That's what I'm missing, even before it's gone. I liked the Sahara. The IP. The *real* O'Shea's. I probably would have loved the Ho. And the Stardust. And the Dunes. All gone before my visits to LV.

I'm saddened, but not shocked. Friends and I have commented in the past it's not long for this world; guess it's just for real now.

All my favorite places to play seem to be disappearing... My budget allows higher; I just love the dives on the strip. I'll schedule an unplanned trip out to get my last few hours in.
Hope Mr. Personality is still dealing...

The Riv is where I stayed my very first trip to Vegas, so of course it does have a special place in my heart. I went almost seven years between visits to the Riv and when I finally made it back there in March 2011, it was a bit depressing. It was a bit like seeing your first car sitting on blocks in someone's driveway. The middle of the day on a Thursday and the place was downright dead. You could have set off a bomb in the middle of the casino and not killed anyone. I went to what was then called the Queen Victoria Pub for lunch and when I walked in, I was one of maybe 5 customers in the entire place. People walked up to the place, saw how dead it was and turned right back around. After my lunch there, I went across the street to Circus Circus, which was fairly busy. I'll shed a tear when the Riv closes, but I really won't miss it too much. I don't think folks will miss it like they do the Stardust.

But, but... the neon!

I'm sad to see the Riv go, outside of Flamingo and I guess Circus Circus, it might be the last true bastion of neon on the Strip. It makes perfect sense though why it needs to go, LV definitely needs additional convention space and being able to put it on the strip just makes too much sense.

The one thing I wonder about though is what happens to the gaming license, does it just disappear? It's a question I've always wondered on some of the places that shutterered and became something else as well (Westward Ho, Gold spike) I have to imagine that a gaming license for the strip has to have some value alone, that LVCC would be better off selling if they could, anyone no the specfics of transfer with that, I've always assumed that it was similar to a liquor license, even though of course there is the whole gaming commission proceedings, etc.

Any chance the LVCC is looking at the Fountainebleau parcel as well? At the very least maybe this move will make the Fountainebleau parcel look more desirable to someone.

I seriously doubt the LVCVA is looking at the Fontainebleau site as part of their expansion of the LVCC. Any further land acquisitions will likely be as many of the parcels along Convention Center Drive that they can pick up. There are a few parcels that are definitely on the market that were acquired by Triple Five Group for a resort that never materialized. There of course will be some holdouts, as Triple Five encountered some as they tried to cobble together parcels.

Hopefully this will bring the Fontainebleau site out of mothballs one way or another. A nice hotel that close to the Convention Center once it expands would be a good selling point.

Emotionally this is a tug of war for me between excitement for the new project and sadness for losing the Riv.

Chuck I don't think you need to be too concerned about the LVCVA. This is win/win for them. Just think about all the additional trade shows and expos the LVCVA will be able to accommodate with the new footprint and upgraded facilities. All those extra people need to sleep somewhere, so the LVCVA still gets its money. These aren't people that are being stolen from Sands, these are brand new customers - this is pent up demand. This is why Mandalay is expanding their convention center, and Sands has been dabbling with their own expansion.

And the conventioneer in Vegas for a 100,000 attendee show is on an expense account. He's paying the bill at XS and chowing down at Giada (mmmmmm). Vegas is much better off with this customer than the styrofoam cooler crowd at Riviera.

The neighborhood wins, the city wins. The only losers are the people working at Riv. Hopefully they get other jobs that they like more.

This puts me all-in to Reno going forward. If I don't have a name-tag strapped around my neck or want bottle service, I'm not welcome on the Strip? Message received. It's been a great two decades....

MattK hits the nail right on the head. The LVCVA is looking to keep those visitor numbers going up and expanded and improved convention facilities helps immensely. While we don't know what the timeline for expansion is, it may mesh nicely with the opening of Resorts World and Elan and additional conventions in town can make it easier to absorb those new rooms. hitting the market.

Is there a way to save the neon and the name? Perhaps build something, call it the Riveria wing of the LVCC, and put all that neon on one external wall? Better yet, bring the Neon Boneyard to the Strip?

As for everyone who works there, I really hope they can land on their feet. Hasn't happened in to the folks in Atlantic City, but I feel like Vegas offers way more opportunity. Still, I hope MGM, Station, and the Stevens reach out to the Riv's staff.

FWIW I doubt Circus-Circus is going anywhere. MGM dropped a good load of money on the amusement dome recently.

I think the end of Riviera makes an upgrade of Circus Circus a must. The low rollers and college kids hav eto stay somewhere. I went past the Riv quite a few times during my stays in Vegas and once I went in. I couldn't get out of there fast enough. This isn't helping SLS at all unless the folks who stayed at the Riv decide it is their new home.

On the one hand, convention space is relatively inexpensive construction, not much more than dressed-up warehouse space.

On the other hand, I just don't see the long-term growth potential for the convention industry at large. Vegas has a huge advantage in that it's a premier destination, but I dunno. In a few years we'll be seeing more and more convention sites around the country fighting for fewer and fewer conventions.

It's a shame they have to knock down the old girl for this.

Depends on what they build. A 750000 sqft convention space can definitely be pricey.

Circus Circus seems to be packed with UK tourists who got suckered on deals in their homeland, or at least from what I've heard in various shuttle trips to the Strip from the airport in recent years...

The place makes money for MGM, and has for years...there have been upgrades to some of the tower rooms over time, but the people who stay there are just looking for a place to sleep...

Like many of you I fear for the future of the Mirage...I've enjoyed every visit to Mirage over the last decade plus, since I started going to Vegas every year since 2002..but with new eateries and room upgrades over the past few years, I think the place keeps churning out a profit...at least one hopes..

As others have mentioned the best part of the Riviera is their neon frontage, hopefully that will be preserved for future generation to gawk at.

This piece of news about the Riviera is probably going to count as the story of the year for Las Vegas. It's a solid step for the perennially troubled, frustrating, uneven progress the North Strip. The convention business has always been anchored just a ( 1/4 mile ) block away near Paradise and ending that demographic to the North Strip makes for all kinds of possibilities. ( a possible free monorail or people mover from the Paradise side to the strip ?? ).

For me the Riviera was the first property I stayed in Las Vegas it holds a special place for me, as flawed and somewhat decrepid as the Riv was when I first saw it. I had been to Atlantic City casinos ( Golden Nugget was my first casino ever - what a sight that was ).

I didn't know Las Vegas that well but Riviera rooms were sooo cheap then ( 2004 ) and it was "on the strip" -- so how could I go wrong ? Little did I know.

The was nothing like the Golden Nugget or the other newish ( compared to the Riv ) casinos I knew from AC. I couldn't believe how low ceilinged the main casino area was.
The food court type restaurants were kind of sad.

Some of the few things that impressed me though were the pool with the "R" logo on the pool bottom, pretty spacious pool area with plenty of lounge chairs.

The pictures throughout the property of famous entertainers were golden. I hope the new convention center keeps those on display along. Keeping a tower, the pool and some of the corridors as a memory lane where you experience what went for old vegas in its heyday would keep it interesting although as millenials get middle aged those old names like Diana Ross, Liberace, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich might not have the same magical effect.

I studied film in college and seeing Marlene Dietrich pix made it for me.

You took an escalator up the the still open Buffet ( my first Buffet ever ). Blech !
Lots of chain smoking, still leggy, ex-showgirl looking women eating their main meal for the day with lots of starch group heavy foods like macaroni and cheese, mexican, pizza type entrees.

The north strip area was a mess. They were frantically building the Wynn. Walking down the strip to Venetian/Mirage area was hot, dusty, porn-slapper heavy with oddballs, drunks and time-share sales crazed.

The heat was incredible. 105 - 110 during the day and high 90's at night.

I really wish I had gone over to the Stardust because it was still standing.

Well .... it was July. The highs were 105 -110, the lows were high 90's at night, usually still 99 degrees around midnight.

The place will be closed down on 5/4.

This makes me sad. It's still the frontage on the strip that yells "Vegas!" loudest, even if it doesn't pull enough people in.

The ownership of the neon remains with the sellers, as does the name and associated trademarks and logos. The classic Las Vegas photos throughout the property will belong to the LVCVA, I'm guessing they'll put them up in the new convention space.

With the former ownership retaining the rights to the Riviera name, could we see the Riv reborn? Starwood Capital definitely has the means to make it happen, perhaps they make a deal to buy the Fontainebleau site from Icahn?

@andybflo ... You would have loved the "Ho". From the $0.75 Coors Light, cheap limits and the worst/best Elvis impersonator Michael Kennedy, it was magic.

I was more drawn to the IP or O'Sheas, but I feel for those who spent a lot of time here. Including Nomi Malone herself.

Sorry for my previous rambling, unproofread post above. When I said the Riviera sale could be the story of the year I meant that it looks like that development leads to a certain number of other shoes to drop, such as how it affects MGM Grand's plans for the north strip, what happens to Fountainebleu ( building and land ). You can practically hear or try to imagine the kinds of conversations happening in gaming corporation board rooms.

I'm glad to hear ( although not surprised ) that the vintage vegas pictures will go to
the LVCVA. I love the old pictures. When you stand inside a grande dame like the Riviera you get the same kind of feeling looking at pictures of parties in the 1920's and 30's at the Overlook hotel in the Stnaley Kubrick movie The Shining. ( But without the spookiness of seeing Jack Nicholson dressed in a tuxedo in those pictures partying with the guests ).

@KickedBoar The IP was my favorite. Many late nights over-tipping cocktail waitresses so I could get table-side Sake service (yes, they'd do it with the right pit boss.)

It was also the first place I ever stayed in Vegas... Five guys. Three rooms. One week. Total bill was less than I pay for a night in the Augustus Tower now. ;) Ironically, though, Id' still play most of my time over there, even staying at CP.

I'm going to miss the old dumps on the strip. Won't be the same.....

I can totally relate to what Vespajet and jkvgtripping are feeling. Having turned 21 in 1981, my first time was at Frontier. Most everything down there was within walking distance. The Stardust, Riv, Ho, Holiday Inn Center Strip; they were all there. If you wanted some upscale times, walk across the street to the Desert Inn. But back then, you could walk. If you wanted to walk from Barbary Coast to Riviera in those days, it would be a trek but very doable. Today, If you wanted to walk down to the Riviera from ...say Monte Carlo, have fun feeling your way through the City Center Aria maze. If you cross the street, you will have to contend with the kiosks and foot traffic around the Carnival Court by Harrah's. I sort of feel guilty for not feeling bad about this. The fact is that the only time I stopped there recently is after eating at the Peppermill and then walking through the bowels of the Riv in an effort to find the taxi stand so I could catch a cab. If I can get by without Barbary Coast, I will survive this. Still, the memories of our earliest Vegas experiences will not go away with this latest demolition and those memories are always worth at least a toast.

But I knew it this was coming eventually. I'm going to miss the old dirty place. I remember one night in particular sitting in their casino, drunk off my ass, and my husband was having a conversation with an escort about how there's no money in Vegas anymore, how she used to make $xxx and now she only makes $xxx amount of money.

Anoter time my guy won $80 in a slot machine and we immediately had a guy running to us asking us if we needed a casino host because he'd be GLAD to assist us with anything we needed at the Riviera. So desperate....

RIP Riveria

Lol. RIP Riviera. Derp de der.

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