In Las Vegas 2020, new hotels, bigger convention center and a football stadium
Resorts rise, resorts fall (or get strategically imploded). Brands are born, go dim, then sometimes are reborn. So goes business as usual in Las Vegas, which draws more than 40 million tourists annually and will be unveiling new hotels, a new football stadium and an expanded convention center in the coming months.
Here’s a roundup of this and more.
Before plunging ahead, a note about hotel rooms and prices. The city’s hotel room inventory has hovered around 150,000 for several years. The average daily room rate for the first nine months of 2019 was $133; that’s $143 on the Strip and $72 in the humbler properties downtown. When browsing prices, beware of resort fees, which often add $35 or more a night to your bill yet are often omitted from advertised rates.
Circa Resort & Casino
Circa Resort & Casino is the first new-built hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas in about 40 years. The property, under construction at Fremont and Main streets downtown, is due to open in December with 777 rooms on 44 floors. (Because of various superstitious numerical omissions, the floor numbering will actually go to 60.)
Designed to invoke local history, Circa will include Vegas Vickie (a high-kicking neon cowgirl formerly seen above Fremont Street) in its lobby. Other features: the longest outdoor bar on Fremont Street, a sports book area with a very big screen and a nine-story Garage Mahal that will contain 1,201 parking spaces.
Long admired for their electric glow, the casinos, hotels and other attractions of Las Vegas have largely turned to the brighter lights and lesser costs of LED technology. Neon? There’s a museum for that.
The first Virgin Hotel in Las Vegas will occupy the old home of the Hard Rock Hotel about a mile east of the Strip. The Hard Rock was to close Monday, followed by several months of construction.
In the fall, a Virgin Hotel with 1,504 rooms and a 60,000-square-foot casino is to emerge. It will be part of the Hilton Curio collection.
Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino
The 629-room Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino is due to add a new building with 495 more rooms by mid-2020.
Las Vegas Convention Center
To get conventioneers from one end to the other, Elon Musk’s The Boring Co. in November started digging a mile of tunnels for an electric people mover beneath the convention center. It’s due for completion in 2021.
Allegiant Stadium, a new 65,000-seat football venue, is under construction just west of Interstate 15 near Mandalay Bay. Target completion date is July 31, and the Raiders (based in Oakland in 2019) are supposed to start playing home games there in the 2020 season. The UNLV Rebels will also use the venue.
The NHL came to Las Vegas first, with the Golden Knights in 2017. The Raiders are next. And Mayor Carolyn Goodman expects the NBA, MLB and MLS to follow.
Twitter commenters have already suggested the new stadium looks like a Death Star, a slow-cooker appliance, a hockey puck or maybe a big Roomba vacuum.
That, to be sure, is a substantial list of openings and expansions. But another long-awaited opening had been expected in 2020: Resorts World, a $4.3-billion, 88-acre, 3,500-room casino hotel will be the biggest new hotel-casino project on the Strip since the unveiling in late 2010 of the Cosmopolitan.
The Resorts World project, a venture of the Malaysia-based Genting Group, is still coming, but its opening date has slipped to the summer of 2021. Through delays, redesigns, legal skirmishes with the nearby Wynn resort and leadership changes, the project has morphed from a Chinese theme to a more modern international look intended to draw American, European and Asian guests alike.
Also in 2021, the people behind Madison Square Garden in New York are due to unveil MSG Sphere, a 17,500-seat performance venue next to the Venetian hotel. The structure, under construction, is to be 366 feet tall and spherical.
For travelers who haven’t seen Las Vegas for a few years, there’s also plenty that arrived in 2018 and 2019.
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel morphed into the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas in late summer 2018. Wynn Plaza added about 30 upscale retailers and restaurants between the Wynn and Encore hotels on the Strip; and Eataly brought a mix of Italian restaurants, market goods and events to the Park MGM hotel on the Strip. The Mob Museum downtown completed a major renovation that year.
Among the additions in 2019: The Happy Place, a pop-up photo-op venue with a dozen Instagram-friendly rooms, opened at Mandalay Bay. The SLS Las Vegas reverted to its pre-2014 name, Sahara. The Hooters hotel and Casino got a new owner and new name. It’s now the OYO Hotel & Casino.
At the former Stratosphere between the Strip and downtown, new owners compressed its name to the Strat and (while remaining open) are renovating restaurants and many of the property’s 2,427 guest rooms.
And on New Year’s Eve, the Fremont Street Experience downtown welcomed 2020 by debuting an upgraded version of its 1,375-foot-long Viva Vision video screen, now said to be seven times brighter and four times sharper.
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