Losing The Sands

the sands expo

The news came out last week that Las Vegas will finally lose one of the most iconic names on the Las Vegas Strip. Although many newcomers probably never even knew it still existed.

Scott Roeben’s Vital Vegas broke the news that the Sands Expo, one of the world’s largest privately-owned convention centers is changing its name to better match the name of the resort it’s attached to. Starting in September, it will be known as The Venetian Expo.

In 1989, Sheldon Adelson and his group purchased the aging Sands casino then imploded the resort to build the Venetian and then the Pallazo.  Combined, it is now the largest hotel in the world.

Movie buffs will remember at the end of the 1997 movie CON AIR, the doomed plane crash lands on the Las Vegas Strip and ends up crashing in the main tower of the Sands. By that point, a majority of the resort had already been demolished, they saved the front tower and entrance for the explosive movie climax.

Although he demolished the resort, he still wanted its memory to live on.  Sheldon changed the name of his company to The Las Vegas Sands Corporation.  Then in 1990, when he built the convention center, he called it the Sands Expo.

But times change. Sheldon Adelson passed away in January and in March, the Las Vegas resorts were sold for $6.2 Billion.

The Curious History of the Sands resort

The Sands casino resort, the renowned landmark, opened its doors in 1952 as a casino and resort with 200 rooms. . It was established by Mack Kufferman, and this new gambling resort set Las Vegas in the national spotlight as the center of entertainment and a place for celebrity hangouts.

The problems started at the beginning. Mack Kufferman, who planned to make the Sands hotel a casino, had failed to gain the gaming license, and his project shares were sold to Jake Freedman.

According to many resources, crime bosses Doc Stacher and Meyer Lansky acquired shares in it. Also, many other organized crime figures, illegal bookmakers like Mike Shapiro, Ed Levinson, and Sid Wyman, Hyman Abrams, and Jack Entratter were involved in the financing of Sands and had shares in it.

The Sands?

Initially, Freedman intended to name the hotel based on the film name ‘Holiday Inn’ released in 1942. But when being there and saw that his socks were full of sand, he decided to name it Sands (which is also the name of a race track). So, really. it was named after a race track.

However, its tagline, “A place in the sun” was named after a recently released film at that time. This idea suits the hot desert place perfectly where Sands casino resort was located.

The Famous Came Out For The Sands’ Grand Opening 

Not only the famous stars were invited but there are also more surprising details of the inauguration.

Sands Casino Opening

Sands opening advertisement on Billboard in 1952.

12,000 people visited the Sands casino resort in the first few hours of opening because it was widely publicized.

The celebrities Arlene Dahl, Fernando Lamas, Esther Williams, and Terry Moore were invited as special guests. Moreover, there were 146 journalists at the inauguration.

Opening Night Performers

Some of the most renowned stars Danny Thomas, Jimmy McHughRay Sinatra, and his Orchestra were the initial house band, and the Copa girls, labeled “the most beautiful girls in the world” performed at inauguration night.

These performances were held in the casino’s showroom, Copa room which is the signature attraction of Sands casino resort.

Danny Thomas was hired to perform for the first two weeks of the inauguration but plans needed to be changed on the second night because he had laryngitis.

Therefore, more famous stars were hired to replace Danny Thomas. Those were Jimmy Durante, Frankie Laine, Jane Powell, the Ritz Brothers, and Ray Anthony.

Jack Entratter, nicknamed “Mr. Entertainment,” took the manager position at the Sands, who was best known for his managing positions at New York Club, Copacabana. He brought numerous brightest stars of the day to the casino’s Copa Room. That made Copa the hottest ticket in America and one of the most coveted stages for performers.

The Sands and The Rat Pack 

When crime bosses Doc Stacher and Meyer Lansky acquired shares in Sands, they attracted Frank Sinatra (Member of Rat Pack, greatest musician of 20th century and best-selling musical artist of all time) to Sands. Moreover, Sinatra made his performing debut in October 1953 at Sands after an invitation from its manager Jack Entratter. Later he bought shares in the hotel and started living there during his breaks from Hollywood.

According to sources, Sinatra was not a hardcore gambler. He earned notoriety for “keeping his winnings and ignoring his losses.” The interesting part is that the mobsters involved in financing and had shares in Sands were not concerned about Frank Sinatra’s actions because Sinatra was good for business and kept bringing in the big rollers.

Films Shot at The Sands

1960, a caper film “Ocean 11” was shot at Sands.

1972 the Sands hosted several scenes for the movie The Godfather

1997 – Con Air – final demolition of the Sands main tower and casino for the ending of the movie

The Famous Owners

Howard Hughes / Summa Corporation Owned it from 1967 to 1988.

In 1983, Summa Corp had sold it to Pratt Corporation, but the new owner could not operate at a profit, and Summa regained the property.

1988 MGM Grand owned it for a few months before selling it to Interface Group.

1989 Interface group became Las Vegas Sands Corporation headed by Sheldon Adelson.

In a glance at history, one owner sold the Sands to another because their idea was not fulfilled as they wanted, or they were unable to make a profit.

June 30, 1996. On November 26, 1996, it was imploded and demolished to make room for The Venetian resort.  The final implosion was used as part of the ending scenes in the movie Con Air

Sands had 44 years of successful history regardless of who had purchased it.

Renowned Faces That Passed Through the Doors of Sands:

America’s center of attention, Sands attracted the most renowned, respected, and influential people of America. Here are a few more names other than the above-listed famous celebrities (actors and singers).

Rat Pack and their many friends – Musical group and group of entertainers

Jerry Lewis – The King of Comedy

Author Mario Puzo – Best author of crime novels

Apollo astronauts – of that time

Adnan Khashoggi – Wealthy Saudi Arms Dealer

Ronald Reagan – 40th President of U.S.

Out with the Old, in with the New 

In 1996, Sands introduced a 500-room tower in its exciting system. It gained more popularity after that and became the first of several hotels purchased by Howard Hughes (the most influential and financially successful individual). After the purchase, its final owners were  Sheldon Adelson, Richard Katzeff, Ted Bernard, Irwin Chafetz, and Jordan Shapiro. After buying out its partners, Sheldon Adelson closed it in June 1996 (25 years ago) to build a brand-new resort.

On November 26, 1996, Sands Casino and Resort was demolished, and The Venetian Las Vegas was built at its place.

In 1989 the Sands Hotel began construction on the Sands convention center. At its completion in 1990, it was the only privately owned and operated convention center in the United States and was the second-largest convention center in the world. Today it boasts 2.2 million square feet.  As a comparison, The public-owned Las Vegas Convention Center encompasses 3.2 million square feet of total building space


Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction Returns!

Barrett - Jackson

June in Las Vegas is looking to be a really busy month.  Not only do we say goodbye to the silly mask mandates, but a lot of our favorite shows finally have set their coming back-to-life dates in June!!  Then we have one of my favorite events!  The Barret -Jackson Collector Car Auction.  June 17-19, 2021.

To make it even more exciting, this year the event moves to the swanky new digs at the Las Vegas Convention Center – West Hall. Right there on the Las Vegas Strip! Next to our favorite restaurant, the Peppermill! Can this get any better of an event??

Barrett Jackson Las Vegas 2021

Fans Since Day One

We started this website back in 2006 and in 2007 was the first year they held the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Las Vegas. It started as an experiment, a way to expand the brand outside their home base of Scottsdale, Arizona. For Las Vegas, it was meant to add something interesting and different to the Las Vegas event calendar between Labor Day and the start of the NFR World Finals.  If memory serves me, I think they signed on to hold the auction in Las Vegas for 5 years. To see if it would work!

What was fun was that Craig Jackson, Chairman, and CEO of Barrett-Jackson, was so gracious and open. He did a great interview then passed us around to other people behind the scenes. Letting Sazzy and myself see how it all worked.

We even got a chance at meeting classic car royalty by being in what could be best described as a presentation line to greet the matriarch of the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company and widely considered as the “First Lady of Collector Cars,” Nellie Jackson, as she entered the auction stage area.

Ok, maybe that’s not the real word for it. There was a line of people that had some importance and they all stood, behind a rope as she entered.  They all said their greetings to her. Not sure if she responded to any of them… But everyone in the line was all giddy that they got to “meet” her.

Trying Not to Drool

For the past couple of weeks, they have been sending out periodic updates on some of the vehicles and automobile memorabilia that will be crossing the auction block.  It’s not always just about the vehicle!

Barrett Jackson Las Vegas

For some of us car buffs, it’s almost better than sneaking peeks at your dad’s Playboy collection.  Let me just say that some serious pieces of chrome will be changing hands in Las Vegas, and the great thing is you can be there!

That’s the cool thing. Ok, so you may not be able to buy that car from your youth that you paid $150 for because today, in restored mint condition, it will sell for one hundred grand.  But you can walk the hall and look at all the cars in the lineup before they hit the auction block.

They also have vendors there as well that can help you in restoring that project car that’s been sitting in your backyard for the last decade. The one you promised the wife you will finish maybe next year!

Best Reason to Go?

I will tell you this.  I have fun there because of the people you will meet.  Just walking the lanes of cars setting up to hit the auction block, you get to talk to some wonderful people who like to talk about cars. Maybe the car that’s about to go up or maybe about a car in the line-up.  You may be standing and admiring some classic car, suddenly somebody walks up and starts to talk about it or what the car reminds them of.  Maybe even get to meet the owner and get their side on why that car or Jeep. And some of the stories will surprise you!

Let me know if you will be there, maybe we can meet up!