Ask: How Many Rooms on That Corner in Las Vegas??

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Looking down the Las Vegas Strip, at all those tall, impressive towers of hotel rooms.  Don’t you ever wonder just how many hotel rooms and suites are there? It’s a popular question on my walking tours and according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the people who are supposed to know those things, there are 148,000 hotel rooms/suites in the Las Vegas Valley. (Read: LVCVA Vegas Stats)

About 120,000 of those rooms are right there on the Las Vegas Strip.  On one of the busiest street corners in the Las Vegas valley, Tropicana and Las Vegas Boulevard, there are over 12,000 hotel rooms between four properties.

The MGM Grand

How Many Hotel Rooms on That Corner in Las Vegas

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The MGM Grand opened in 1993.  A total of 5, 124 rooms in one structure.  That makes it the largest single hotel building in the United States.  That number does not include the three MGM Signature towers in the back of the property or the exclusive MGM Mansion tucked away behind the Showcase Mall along Las Vegas Boulevard.

MGM Grand sits where The Marina Hotel and Casino was located. When they started to build the MGM Grand, instead of tearing the old hotel down, they incorporated into the west wing of the current structure!

New York – New York

The New Yrok New York Hotel in Las Vegas

The newest kid on the corner. The New York – New York hotel and casino opened in 1997 with 2,024 rooms and a world-famous Manhattan Express roller coaster.

The hotel includes several towers built to resemble famous New York City landmarks such as the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. In front of the property is a replica of the Statue of Liberty sitting in a reconfigured New York harbor.

The Tropicana

Tropicana Las Vegas, the grande dame of the Strip

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Yes, what I call “the Grande Dame” of the Las Vegas Strip. Originally built in 1957, it is the oldest operated casino hotel on the Strip with 1, 467 rooms. This lovely lady has seen it all.  The Mob, the boom and bust of the Las Vegas economy.  A lot of people said this was “the next one to go” and yet it still stands with a recently refurbished, south Miami vibe to it.

The Excalibur 

The Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas

One of the more unique hotels on the Las Vegas Strip.  It opened in 1990 and has 3,081 rooms.   When it first opened, guests entered by walking across a drawbridge with a fire-breathing dragon lurking in its moat.  Laugh as you may, As of 2016 Excalibur is the seventh-largest hotel (by the total number of rooms) in Las

Laugh as you may, As of 2016 Excalibur is the seventh-largest hotel (by the total number of rooms) in Las Vegas and the eleventh-largest hotel worldwide!

On March 21, 2003, Josh Ford of Los Angeles hit the largest Megabucks Jackpot to date of $39.7 million at Excalibur.

That gives us a grand total of 12, 596 hotel rooms on one street corner!  Give or take a few hundred to account for puffed up room counts in marketing materials (after all, Las Vegas is home to the “World’s Largest (fill in the blank)”.  Plus taking in to account reconfigurations over the years, I think I got a pretty accurate count!

What Do You Think?? 

What’s Really Driving the Vegas Massacre Conspiracy Stories

On October 1, 2017, Las Vegas became the scene of the worst massacre in Modern American History.  From the first moment somebody realized there was a story there, the people with the tinfoil hats got busy creating conspiracy stories.  A second shooter, a massive government cover-up.  Aliens coming in at the last minute and mind-melding the shooter and melting the Mandalay Bay stairwell doors closed.  And that’s just from the Main Stream Media.

Watching all of this, I started to have a great appreciation for our Sheriff Lombard. The awkward position he must be in and yet he can keep it all going after all this time without going postal. As Sheriff, he is in a place no other Clark County Sheriff has had to be in since maybe Sheriff Lamb back in the 1960’s.

Not only does he have to deal with the fact that this tragedy happened here, on his watch. He has to deal with all the media people wanting instant answers to questions he has no immediate answer for.  Even if Las Vegas was a normal city, you would not get those answers as fast as they want.  There’s a lot of information to process and sources to review. So when he doesn’t give them the answers they want, they go off and fill in the blanks as they wish.

On top of all that, the Sheriff has to deal with the FBI wanting his office to gather things from MGM that a Las Vegas Sheriff just can’t ask the MGM for and expect to stay employed.  What I am saying is that Las Vegas is not a normal town. Las Vegas is a company town.  Well, actually a two company town and MGM owns the grounds where the festival was staged as well as Mandalay Bay.

Getting The Facts

One of the first things you learn when you move here is that you bookmark the LA Times Travel Section and The UK Daily Mail.  This is where you will get any real information on what’s going down on the Las Vegas Strip. The local news media outlets usually need to wait and see what the Gods at MGM and Caesar will tell them and they run with that story.  No need for fact checking because that would insult the company bosses and could kill the advertising revenue.

The Sheriff needs to look good in front of the FBI while having to walk very softly while asking the Gods at MGM for a lot of evidence that is normally off limits to anyone outside the Ivory Towers.  He’s having to do something you normally don’t do if you want to stay in your elected position. Nobody tells MGM what they need to provide.  You just put in a nicely worded request and see what they let you have and be happy with that.   Well, the FBI doesn’t exactly work that way, especially when you have this kind of a tragic event in an international tourist destination.

So when I am watching the Sheriff and his press conferences, I see a man that is running blind here because there probably is no actual procedure on how to tell MGM that they need to give you “this” and expect them to just give it to you.  FBI or not, there are some things you just don’t do in Las Vegas and stay employed!

If you need a reference to what I am talking about, just rent the movie “Walking Tall”  The original is better, but the remake will do the job in this case. (Walking Tall on Amazon)

On Vacation, Please Leave a Message

The tinfoil hat people are all pointing to the fact that MGM/Mandalay Bay employees that had direct contact with the gunman or the security officers when the shooting started, had vanished or are suddenly on vacation.

Really?  If that surprises anyone in Las Vegas, they have not lived here very long.  It’s actually from the Harrah’s (now Caesars) playbook 2007. When building inspectors suddenly vanished and were found to be on vacations just as the news hit that the Rio (owned by Harrah’s/Caesars) had remodeled an entire tower without the proper permits or inspections.  See: the Rio without the proper permits.

And let’s not forget the Harmon Tower disaster.  MGM learned a lot from that incident on how to handle damage control and the securing(?) of evidence for future litigation.  See: Demolition of Vegas’ never-opened Harmon Hotel

Give the Guy A Break

Any tragedy like this would require a long time to digest all the data even if it weren’t Las Vegas.  You have people work with the witnesses and to find those who suddenly had a vacation come up. They have evidence that was once not available suddenly being found (or not).  This being Vegas, the event is under an international media microscope.  The Sheriff will need to back off previously made statements as stories and evidence files are washed out, investigated and determined to be real or false.

When people who went after their 15 minutes of fame, suddenly have to put that story down on a legal document, things begin to change.  Certain bits of information is suddenly remembered or forgotten.  As time goes on and MGM starts to give the law enforcement people what they ask for and give it all without delay or compromise and it matches what is already known, you will see the full story start to develop.

So if you’re wondering why the Sherriff is not telling us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, maybe this post helps give you a clearer picture of how things work here in Las Vegas and give the guy a break. He is trying to keep the FBI happy while still wanting to work in Las Vegas long after they leave.  Certain bridges need not be burned.

Your (clean) thoughts and comments are wlecomed below.

CES B*tch Slaps MGM

If only the people it was intended for would get the message. Unfortunately, James Murren, CEO of MGM Resorts International, has proven to be clueless when it comes to knowing who pays the bills at his company’s resorts. So when the message went out that CES is tired of the screw job Las Vegas resorts are giving the attendees of the annual mega-convention, it probably fell on deaf ears up in the ivory towers of MGM and Caesars.

On the opening day of the largest convention Las Vegas hosts, the people behind CES let it be known they don’t need Las Vegas and they don’t have to put up with the hotel’s price gouging the people who work, display and attend the convention.  That other cities are now able and eager to host such a large event and are happy to do whatever it takes to make it happen. Including capping the hotel room rates, cutting fees, and surcharges.  As well as offering free parking!

Although the article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal mentions this is happening at all the Las Vegas Strip hotels, MGM is the focus because they are the dominate player controlling almost 60% of all hotel rooms on the Las Vegas Strip and MGM is the leader when it comes to finding new ways to add more obscure charges to the guest’s hotel bill.

Virginia-based Consumer Technology Association, the people who put on the annual CES convention has no problem with the resorts making a profit from the show that fills the city, but they also understand that there is a limit to what people will pay to attend their show.  Charging four or five times the daily room rate and adding more fees is unacceptable and will hurt attendance.  As we have said all along with the new fees MGM and Caesars keep adding, there comes a time when you just say “enough” and start to find new places to play and stay. CES is at that point.

Jim Murren and his counterpart at Caesars are both life long Democrats and have that mentality that the money will always be there.  I don’t think they really know where it comes from, but it’s always going to be there for them to have and they always want more.  After all, it’s Vegas and EVERYONE wants to come to Vegas, no matter the cost.  Well, maybe with the news from CES, that management mentality may finally be challenged with a serious sting to the pocketbook of the Las Vegas resorts. Unfortunately, that sting will also be felt by all the people who lost their jobs because of the greed.

Jim Murren was excited about losing middle-class hotels on the Strip like the Riviera in order to make more convention space that will attract more people who will have to pay more money to stay at his resorts properties with the idiotic idea that money is no object to convention attendees.  It’s Vegas!  To the bean counters, they look at it from a spreadsheet/ Business deduction point of view.  It’s a business expense,  so who cares what the charges are, right?

That mentality worked 20 years ago, but it’s a whole new convention game out there and other cities have beefed up their arsenal for going after the events Vegas used to be able to count on to keep this town moving.  Cities like Chicago and Orlando are now willing and able to make deals for the shows by promoting cooperation between the hotels and the event centers. They are willing to be customer friendly, not just profit driven but willing to actually serve the guests interests as well.

When I moved here in 2001, there was no resort monopoly. You had resorts that worked to keep the business coming in the door.  You had people in management who walked the floor and talked to the guests.  Today you have bean counters in the Ivory Towers deathly afraid of ever having to come in contact with an actual guest.  Just get them to empty their pockets at the front counter and everything is ok to them.

A sad state of affairs for such a fun town.  I hope the message is heard where it needs to be heard and they work it out.

 

Rock Legend Stevie Nicks to Open The Park Theater

The MGM has announced who gets the honors of opening its newest music venue at The Park MGM.  Otherwise know as The Monte Carlo.  Rock ‘n’ Roll legend and singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks will be the one to break the seal along with special guest The Pretenders on Saturday, December 17.

“Stevie Nicks is a legend in the music industry and we are thrilled she will be the first to perform in our new Park Theater,” said Richard Sturm, President of Entertainment for MGM Resorts International. “We have had the opportunity to host a number of Stevie’s previous Las Vegas shows and we know she will give her fans another sensational performance in December.”

 

Stevie Nicks opens The Park Theater MGM

 

According to MGM Press Releases:  

Park Theater at Monte Carlo will blend classic contemporary design with cutting-edge technology, resulting in an intimate entertainment space customizable for every artist and event. The farthest seat from the stage will be only 145 feet, offering unparalleled views from anywhere within the theater. The showroom features a  240-foot- wide immersive projection surface, 3D motion graphics, 80-foot-wide LED display with 4K resolution and more.

 

Is the Dome Doomed? Not So Sure…..

Courtesy of MANICA Architecture

If you listen or read any of the mainstream or popular Las Vegas-based blogs, media sites or YouTubers, you may think the deal is off.  That the idea of using part of hotel room tax to help get the 65,000 seat domed stadium built is doomed.  Fear not, that is merely by plan to have you think that.

Most of those who say it is doomed are only repeating what they need to repeat to keep those free media invites coming from the ivory towers of the Golden Lion, AKA The MGM Resort or through their marketing arm, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).

Too many talking heads on TV or on radio need the advertising revenue MGM offers them to ever go against the wishes of the roaring lion.  Many of the Vegas bloggers like the free buffets that come with the media pass to each and every Criss Angel revamped show opening so they would never publicly disagree with them.  Kind of makes the discussion one-sided, don’t you think?

When you need their approval, you will say what they want you to say and nothing more.  The “facts” mean nothing.  Sounding familiar??  Let me draw the picture for you.

You have a self-made, successful businessman who is publicly going up against a politically connected CEO of the largest employer in Las Vegas.  The battle is not really over the room tax or the stadium, it is over who gets to control the big pot of money the city gets from its share of the room tax pie.  The dome is just the tool for Sheldon Adelson to finally get the attention needed on the topic of room tax expenditures and tourism marketing priorities.

Being a supposed “small” player in the room tax debate because he controls so few rooms compared to MGM, his voice over how to spend the money his company sends in has been mute.  Only to really look and see what type of rooms his property offers and the level of high-priced conventions are hosted at the Sands Convention Center versus what are held at MGM properties, kind of shines a different light on the topic.

Sheldon Adelson, CEO of Sands Corporation, owners of the Palazzo and Venetian has  7,000 hotel suites and over 1 million square feet of Las Vegas convention space. Jim Murren, CEO of MGM Resorts has over 30,000 hotel rooms and 2 million square feet of convention center space spread over several resorts. Sheldon Adelson is a staunch Republic who wants border controls while Jim Murren recently claimed he was a lifelong Republican (cough-cough), but supports Hillary Clinton and allowing thousands of undocumented “refugees” from terrorist countries to come to America without being vetted.

Bali Hai Location

Courtesy of MANICA Architecture

Jim Murren believes we need to raise the room tax in order to expand and improve the Las Vegas Convention Center complex.  A worthy and needed endeavor.  He and a lot of his sheep want to say that having a stadium subsidized by the room tax should not be allowed because it would compete with similar arenas that are privately owned.  Yet they support the room tax to fund and maintain a convention center that competes with convention centers that are privately owned.

Sheldon Adelson believes as many others do (but fear to say publicly) that Las Vegas needs a 60,000 seat domed stadium to stay competitive with other tourist cities in America and that it would benefit the convention business as well as the sports/leisure side of Las Vegas tourism.   Being used by the NFL as well as the UNLV football team and major conventions plus concerts/festivals would bring more revenue to the city.

Just because the people involved are billionaires and “should” pay for it themselves, is not the issue as some want it to be.  This is a benefit to the city as much, if not more than it is to the people behind it.  Again, you can use the same rational with the convention center.  The people behind that (MGM) can afford to build their own, so why should the room tax be used for that?  Or for anything the room tax is currently being used for in the tourist corridor??

Problems in Paradise

The problem with the stadium proposal as it sits now (in my opinion) is who is involved and who will become involved if it goes further.

Sheldon Adelson picked up the cause earlier this year.  He’s a do’er and a man who knows how to get things done.  It had been slowly growing the last few years as alumni from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), started to acquire land near the campus to build a much-needed football stadium.  They had the land next to the airport and the campus, but that site has now been discarded for being too close to the runways.

Why Sheldon brought onboard Majestic Realty to handle the land deal and the building of the stadium is beyond me. They do not have a great track record when working with government agencies or tax dollars.  They tried a few years back to build a new stadium for the UNLV campus.  They started out great until they started to ask for, then demand tax increment financing (TIF).  As they pursued that avenue for funding, the costs started to spiral out of control as more things were added to the design.  The same thing here, the costs keep getting larger every time they start talking about using tax dollars to round out the financing.

The new location they want to build the stadium on is where Bali Hai golf course sits now.  Right next to the airport’s busiest runway! The group behind the stadium also claim to have purchase agreements to buy the vacant land directly across the I-15 from Mandalay Bay for the parking, tailgating, and entertainment.

Build the Las Vegas Raiders here??

Courtesy Tom Donoghue

Bali Hai is owned by Bill Walters.  If you didn’t know better, you would think he was related to Senator Harry Reid for all the sweetheart land deals the Clark County Commissioners keep giving him.  He currently holds a 99-year lease on the land and wants to change it from a golf course designation to light industrial.  Clark County Commissioners seemed like they were about to sign off on that deal before this one came on their radar.

Building it next to the I-15, behind an MGM property and across for the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, is a bad place not just for the politics involved and the fact that part of the land is unusable for building due to airport restrictions, it will mess up the tourist experience at the sign as well as the entry way to the Las Vegas Strip.

The land across the interstate is almost perfect.  Still close to the University, easy freeway access and easy to move people over from the Strip to the arena.  It does not interfere with the tourist experience on the Strip.   Easy to extend the monorail or MGM’s tram from the Strip to the stadium.  If you need Bali Hai, use it for parking and the entertainment district. Less building problems and airport interference.  You would be able to easily funnel traffic out of the area via three different ways and on to two highways.

The Deal Killer

Right now, the people behind the stadium are asking for $700 million to finish off the $1.9 Billion cost. They want all the parties who would benefit from this to have skin in the game.  Fair enough because “we” would control the facility.  They have put down a challenge stating that if they do not get the $700 million, they will walk away. Yea, right.  Nice challenge but too many people want this deal to happen.  From the NFL leadership who need some good PR to Jim Murren who needs to get rid of the free tram in front of the Excalibur and replace it with a money machine monorail.

Jim Murren just doesn’t want to give up the control he has over the room tax fund and the LVCVA.  In my opinion, the LVCVA is a bloated organization and needs to be thinned down as well as reined in as far as spending anyways.  It needs some serious accountability.  $700,000 a year for a CEO is a little overboard for a man who oversees the marketing of a tourist corridor that almost markets itself.   Our number one competitor in tourism is Orlando.  Their room tax goes into a fund that is spent on all areas of tourism, not just a corridor and not just to the benefit of one or two primary enterprises.

Everyone has deadlines and the Raider people keep bringing up the deadline to get an NFL league vote.  MGM keeps coming up with the deadline for a call for a special legislative session.  You know what?  You have a lot of real good negotiators trying to pee up a rope and see who can pee the furthest.  They really want this to happen but each party wants to look like it was on their terms.  The deadlines will and can move.  Too much tax revenue is at stake. Too many egos are being hurt and need mending and they need closure.  We need the stadium and we need it to be built now.

 

Las Vegas Raiders Stadium Location Debate

Courtesy of Tom Donoghue

What About Sam Boyd?

The one question I have yet to hear answered is why they have not mentioned selling the current UNLV Sam Boyd Stadium and using that money to offset the need to use the room tax?  Sam Boyd Stadium sits 9 miles away from the UNLV campus.  Right in the middle of a growing, upper-middle-classing development area.  Land prices in that area are now rising and they are stable. The developers are building everything and anything they can right now and almost selling out.

Sam Boyd Stadium is sitting on prime land that can be better used as development than it can be as an empty stadium.  Can anyone answer that for me??  Bueller??

I’m going to end it here for now.  I just wanted to show there was more to the story than most people are being led to believe.  There will be more to report as this moves forward and things change or solidify!

Let’s Talk

This is a hot topic around Las Vegas and everyone seems to have an opinion on our need to have a stadium that is partly paid for by a room tax.  The statements made in this post are the opinions of the author himself, Mark Anthony.  I am open to debating and discussing any point made here as a personal opinion, as long as the debate or discussion is civil and polite.  I will delete or ban any comments that are not civil or not keeping with the topic.