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When Death or The Wrecking Ball Comes To Visit

By Chuckmonster on Wednesday, 24th August 2005 8:46am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 0


Death has been forecast many times for the aging properties of Las Vegas Boulevard, but most of the hotel-casinos that were in the economy niche a decade ago continue to hold their ground.

In 1999, UNLV Professor Bill Thompson told International Gaming & Wagering Business magazine: "One thing they're going to have at the Sahara, Imperial Palace or San Remo is the constant threat of being absorbed, reorganized or downsized. (Billionaire Stratosphere owner Carl) Icahn might buy them. If you're the Riviera, you're going to constantly have that threat."

Six years later, each of those properties is still independently owned and essentially in the same market position as before.

Although occupancy remains high at the 48-year old Tropicana, its parent company is under pressure to implode it and build a new megaresort.

"There remains a solid market for each of these properties," as measured in their high occupancy levels, according to Jim Medick, chief executive officer of the locally based MRC Group, which specializes in market research.

"If price is a determining factor," Medick said, "they (consumers) will seek out some of the old, famous names on the Strip and stay there. While they don't have all the sizzle that the other (newer) properties have, they certainly serve a purpose."

Which is not to say that there isn't pressure to redevelop, particularly from Wall Street. Tropicana Resort &Casino owner Aztar saw its stock price plummet $4.18 a share in February when it continued to postpone the long-awaited redevelopment of its south Strip property.

Although the Tropicana subsequently ceased taking convention bookings, Aztar Vice President of Corporate Communications Joe Cole said the move was purely precautionary, not a sign of an imminent building implosion.

"We're talking about a full redevelopment," he added. "We're in the design process for the north half."



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