So here we are. At the end of what can only be described as the year we wished never happened and the year we want to forget even happened. With that in mind, what could 2021 possibly look like from what we know today? This being the end of the year, I thought it was time to make a few predictions, maybe even call them forward-thinking ideas??
The idea for this was actually sparked by a recent post from Scott Ruben and his popular website Vital Vegas. Where he recently shared some of his usually wacky predictions for 2021. Some of them I agreed with, others I don’t. I will explain here.
The Virgin in Las Vegas
First Up, is the one that had a lot of people wondering about it. The Virgin Hotel. Formerly known as the Hard Rock Resort. Its Grand Opening was scheduled for middle January 2021. Now they have postponed it for “later 2021”. I think it will still open in 2021, Just not in January. I see it opening closer to summertime. For the popular and always profitable pool season.
The sticking point for having a successful grand debut is going to be their need for Virgin Airlines or whatever the reincarnation of that airline becomes in 2021, to start back flying into Las Vegas again. That will be their main clientele and they will need that British market to keep it alive and functioning.
Now on to the Tropicana.
This one is one of those Vegas resorts that is always on some doom or die list. In 2021, it may finally happen. The predictions may finally be accurate. With the market changing, the new growth from California markets and such, I will agree with Scott here, that the Tropicana could be gone next year. I mean, really gone!
Hilton owns the land and there is a lot there. With the market tanking like it is because of the closed tourist markets, the land is worth more than the buildings. So 2021 may finally be the finale for the Grand Dame of the Strip! Not sure what would be built there, and I really hate saying this, but I do see the Tropicana being gone in 2021.
Speaking of Demolition
Now for the Rio. Recently sold. The new owners are letting Caesars continue to operate it as the Rio for 2 more years. Plenty of time to move the World Series of poker over to what is currently called Ballys. After that, who knows.
Scott thinks it too will be up for demolition in 2021. I disagree. Too much land there for that right now. I see new markets opening for the non-gaming tourist sector and the Rio is in the perfect location to tap that emerging market.
The hotel is known for its oversized rooms that could make a great place for budget-minded extended stay people. Tapping into the new work from home tourism trend. MGM and other gaming resorts are trying to tap into that market, but they are going for the upper-level executive who will have an expense account.
The larger untapped market is the one Airbnb and other rental groups are killing it in. This could be the perfect place for the average work from home staff member who doesn’t have to work from their home and doesn’t have an expense account to fall back on. If they were to add some price friendly minimarkets and shops in the courtyard – you have a great opportunity to fill the place up all year round.
Meanwhile, you are generating cash to use for expansion or diversification of all that open land. Make it into a sports field or something like that.
Across the Street
The Palms, currently owned by Station Casinos who are the largest off-strip casino/resort company in Las Vegas, and they have it closed with no plans to reopen it. I talked about this earlier in another video and I am sticking to my prediction. In 2021 I see Stations unloading it at any cost and the Seminole Indians who own the Hard Rock brand picking it up for their rumored return to the Strip.
It’s close enough to be thought of as “on the strip” without being on the actual strip and still get the business from there as well as from the Vegas locals. The bonus would be having the Palms Tower across the parking lot. This would tap into the new work from anywhere tourist who are starting to find Las Vegas to be a nice place to work from.
What about the North Strip?
To me, I think 2021 will be the year The Drew finally gives up the ghost. Here is where Scott and I agree. The Drew, or what I call the Big Blue Silo, will once again be out of business. The current owner has stopped work on the tower and creditors have started to put liens on the property. I say it will go bankrupt again in 2021.
Maybe finally someone will have had enough and blow it up. Vegas has not had a good demolition in years.
And that brings us to that big hole in front of the big blue silo. The “All Net” arena that has never gone past being a big hole in the ground. Rumor has it that we are in line for an NBA expansion team in 2021. And that it could eventually go there
I think it’s not going to happen. The NBA is having a marketing and fanbase meltdown after pushing the Black Lives Matter propaganda into every game and allowing millionaire players to publicly protest whatever they were protesting while dribbling a ball. Their Fan base is shrinking rapidly. The same issues that are going to kill off NASCAR in a couple of seasons as well.
So the hole will stay a hole in 2021 and Vegas, I predict will not get an NBA team (yet).
The MSG Sphere
Now if the Big Blue Silo happens to go bye-bye in 2021, then I could see another venue taking both plots of land in 2022 or later. And that brings us to Madison Square Gardens – AKA The MSG Sphere. That globe-shaped arena being built behind the Venetian.
Scott thinks this will be abandoned by MSG as the Las Vegas market continues to struggle to recover. I don’t see it that way. I see it as the opposite. Las Vegas offers MSG just Too much of an opportunity here and a great money-making challenge to beat out their competitor who has had the market to themselves for too many years.
Build this futuristic musical venue and they will certainly dominate over Axis/Ticketmaster, the company currently controlling the major entertainment venues in Las Vegas. I say it will continue to be built and it will open on the new scheduled date of 2023.
Onward to El Dorado
From there, we head further south on the Strip. Eldorado Casinos bought up Caesers in 2020 and will be in full control of all the company assets in 2021.
They are focused more on the gambling market and will need to shed some of their properties that don’t fit that mold and to bring stability to the financial sheets. Ballys will stay but it will be renamed the Horseshoe in 2021 and the World Series of poker will finally return to where it started. Well, at least return to the name of a casino where it all started in1970.
I see Planet Hollywood and the Cromwell being sold off in 2021. They just don’t fit the Eldorado/ casers mold and would be an easier sell than their other properties. This should open the door to allowing some new companies to come in and open up shop on the strip. Finally adding some healthy competition to the Strip and to Las Vegas itself.
The Local Market
For us who live here or are part-time residents; snowbirds and such.
Station Casinos I think will have a big story in the first half of 2021. They own several popular off-strip casino resorts. By now, most of them have reopened. However, Three of their properties are still closed and I don’t see them opening up ever again. Texas Station, Fiesta Las Vegas, and Fiesta Henderson.
Back in the early 2000’s Station Casinos had been buying up cheap land with plans for major expansion as the valley expanded as well. Vegas expanded, but the local gambling market hasn’t. It’s actually degreased. Now they have essentially overbuilt. They also have too many resorts already open that are too close together. So something has to give.
Like with Hilton and the Tropicana, it’s a situation where the land the closed properties sit on, is worth more empty than with the buildings on them. Look at it another way. Since they are in the residential areas and the housing market is booming right now. So they can flip the properties quickly and easily for almost immediate demolition and construction of new housing. Quick cash!
If they are using a subsidiary or a real estate trust for the building, they could make some nice continuous cash by managing the communities and owning the Home Owners Association (HOA). That’s easy cash for life with very little staff or maintenance to worry about.
I see all three going away in 2021. I see Stations announcing the surrender of the gaming licenses for these three properties and clearing them off. Something they are already doing with some of the vacant lands they own around the resort.
I need to make an asterisk here. Fiesta Vegas, Yes, gone. Texas Station, Yes, gone. Complete demolition and flipping the land to housing. However, with Fiesta Henderson, I see predict a different scenario in 2021. They are already converting the vacant land to condos. However, as we begin to recover and attract more drive-in tourists and tourists more focused on Lake Mead or National Park tours than gaming or the Strip, I could see them salvaging the hotel part. Like the Rio, maybe more of an outdoor courtyard, entertainment district around the hotel. Then whatever land is left over, build more housing on it.
Any way you look at it, I see 2021 as the year Las Vegas begins to rebuild itself into something newer, grander, and certainly much different than what we knew it as now. Something it has been done constantly for the past 115 years! never staying stagnant for long!
That’s it. there we have it… My brief look into what could be the near future of the place we call las Vegas.
What do you think? Do You Agree?? Leave me your comments and questions down below.