Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

The Plaza today announced they'd be laying off 400 workers as they close the hotel and part of the casino for planned renovations.

Tamares, the holding company that owns the hotel, spun this as the start of great things to come but come on - how many hotels shut down completely to renovate guest rooms? Clearly Downtown Las Vegas continues to struggle - other hotels like Binion's have also shut down.

The Firefly restaurant, part of the casino and the showroom will remain open. That's gotta suck for the Firefly though - great restaurant, cool space but now even fewer customers. It's usually half empty when I am in there.


Read archived comments (17 so far)
September 13, 2010 10:53 AM Posted by Brian Fey

Well, I'm sure the Plaza on the Strip will be opening soon.

September 13, 2010 11:07 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I recall reading a couple years ago where Mayor Goodman would like to demolish the Plaza, because it blocked the view of Smphony Park from Fremont Street. One more reason to be nervous about the prospects of reopening.
I think Tamares' pockets are deep enough to do this project without a problem. I just wonder if they want to? I sure hope they do.

September 13, 2010 11:15 AM Posted by detroit1051

Death knell for The Plaza. No way a weak downtown property closes all its rooms and most of the casino for 12 months and then re-opens. And, don't ask if I trust Tamares.
In tribute, I'll rent "The Stand" to see the final scenes from the Union Plaza. These are tough times in Vegas and not getting better.

September 13, 2010 11:17 AM Posted by parchedearth

Even closed, the Plaza requires more than $20M a year just to maintain the status quo.

September 13, 2010 11:21 AM Posted by socalduck

The article states they are looking for $20m to fund improvements. With 1000+ rooms plus public spaces to cover, that does not seem nearly enough.

September 13, 2010 11:52 AM Posted by Jeff Simpson

If the Plaza is reopened one year after closing I'll be amazed. My bet is that this is a cost-cutting maneuver, pure and simple. Won't surprise me in the least if Tamares closes the Western and maybe even the Las Vegas Club. Oscar Goodman and the Fremont Street Experience member casinos must be livid, as the Plaza will top the Lady Luck as downtown's highest-priotity dead space.

September 13, 2010 12:02 PM Posted by Matt K

Terrible for everyone - particularly the employees. There's a (very, very) small silver lining that the reduction of 1,000 rooms from the city's overall supply will slightly soften the impact of 3,000 new Cosmo rooms.

September 13, 2010 12:38 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I think that's about $20,000 per room, on average. That seems to be a pretty common number used lately on room renovation stories I recall reading. I assume they won't do much to the mechanical systems.

September 14, 2010 12:33 PM Posted by mike_ch

Jeff, didn't Oscar's most idealistic plans involve tearing down the Plaza?

I think time is actually turning on his side with this one, since even sitting unused the Plaza's rooms aren't getting any younger.

September 14, 2010 1:00 PM Posted by Jeff Simpson

Mike_ch: Yes, Oscar did want to use that space for access between Fremont Street and Symphony Park. At least until more of Symphony Park is up and running I doubt there will be funding available to buy the Plaza (or soon-to-be Union Plaza) from Tamares. But the Plaza hotel closure could be a Tamares strategy to boost pressure on Symphony Park and the City of Las Vegas to buy the hotel/casino.

September 14, 2010 8:17 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I may be the most naive 52 year old alive, but I (a.) think the Plaza will reopen and (b.) will not be torn down. If for no other reason than Tamares will want $150 million, minimum, for the land and the City can't justify any expenditure over $1 million. Common sense will demand an answer to the question "Is Oscar's clear view of Symphony Park worth over 400 jobs and over $100 million?"
I think the Plaza can clean up for a relatively inexpensive amount of money and this is the best end result for both Downtown and the City of Las Vegas.
Long Live Downtown! Long Live The Plaza!!!

September 15, 2010 6:03 PM Posted by doc_al

Renovations have gone on at the El Cortez, the Fremont, even the Gold Spike, and the Plaza has far more assets than any of them: pool deck, meeting rooms, a showroom, the Firefly space, and a commanding position at the head of Fremont. So from that aspect I'm hopeful. If they could work out a pedestrian corridor to the other side of the tracks they'd potentially benefit from that as well.

On the other hand, it's Tamares.

September 17, 2010 10:50 AM Posted by David McKee

According to today's edition of the Righthaven Daily (aka Review-Journal), the 300-room El Cortez spent $20 million on its upgrade -- or about 67 grand a room (and that's not counting the $7.5 million it dropped on the Cabana Suites). So unless Tamares is planning to up its renovation budget, the Plaza appears unlikely to make the kind of comeback that the El Cortez did.

September 19, 2010 5:21 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

This revolting developement has made me think we need refinements to The Simpson Plan (Tax incentives to update casino properties in disadvataged areas) .
1. 50% of casino floor space must be open at all times.
2. 50% of rooms must remain open.
3. 24 hour dining must be available on property. (On site prepared hot food, with a minimum number of blueberries in each muffin, of course. )

September 20, 2010 11:48 AM Posted by mike_ch

Jeff, that wouldn't fly well for two reasons:

1) Some of the most endangered casinos around the valley have no hotel rooms. Go visit the Eldorado in old Henderson if you want to a see an old, but still slightly charming casino that is threatened by all the Stations and M.

2) Hotel/restaurant requirements would make it a sort of a bone thrown to unions, which will get the political chatterboxes going.

September 20, 2010 12:30 PM Posted by Dave

Jeff, let me add my two cents, too.

I don't think any casino's going to accept those kinds of limits on their operation. Atlantic City tried mandating 24-hour entertainment, and 24-hour dining, and in the end it was not the best idea.

September 20, 2010 4:47 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Dave and mike_ch, my focus is on properties that already have hotel rooms. Trying to eliminate the Tamares, or Lady Luck situation, where although an argument could be made that it is more effecient to close for renovations, it is a major drag on the Downtown "vibe" to close a property during renovations. That's the same point behind the 24 hour dining idea. A clarification would be to maintain all operations as closely as possible to how they already existed at the property.
Funny you mention the Eldorado, Mike, I tried to go there in August 2009. I mistakenly thought it was next to the Joker's Wild after listening to an interview with Vince Wickliffe, general manager of both properties for Boyd Gaming. Lisa and I went to the Joker's Wild and didn't have enough time to go on to the Eldorado. It's still on my list of casinos to visit.
Interesting item I was told about the Eldorado and Joker's Wild; although they are listed wth other Boyd properties in areas like promotions, they are owned by Bill Boyd outside of the company. The Eldorado is the first casino that Sam Boyd ever bought and Bill Boyd has made it clear he will never sell or close them while he is alive.