Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

The New York Times has an interesting article that covers the upcoming growth spurt in Las Vegas. A lot of general info for a mass audience but I did think the quote from Wynn indicating that this was the 'most over the top' expansion so far was interesting.

Is this a bigger game changer than milestones like the International, MGM Grand #1, The Mirage, and then Bellagio?

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Read archived comments (17 so far)
April 25, 2007 4:19 AM Posted by Brian Fey

I have been visiting Vegas on a regular basis since 1990. I cannot every recall a wave this big. We have Foutainbleau, Echelon Place, Encore, Palazzo, Comso, & City Center all currently under construction. This does not even include all the projects that are close to possibly starting. Tropicana, Frontier, Sahara & Riviera are all working on plans to expand, and or rebuild. These are all just the Strip projects, that does not even include things like the Palms and many other various projects, nor does it include all the new casino towers, which are currently under construction, like Palazzo condo's, and the two new Planet Hollywood tower, just to name a few. So I think that Wynn's comment is warrented.

April 25, 2007 2:56 PM Posted by dstanley

Certainly this is by far the biggest expansion in Las Vegas history. In addition, the City Center will introduce true world class architecture to the city. I am just wondering from the perspective of the late 1990's, after the Bellagio, Ventian, and Mandalay, could anyone have imagined a boom this big? I am not sure this latest and largest boom is a bigger milestone then the Mirage because most people that I talk to about Las Vegas history always point to the Mirage as the development that led to modern las vegas. But I do tend to think that years from now this current boom will be seen as the biggest milestone.

April 25, 2007 3:06 PM Posted by mike_ch

It's big but likely short, the water issue is eventually going to be unavoidable.

April 25, 2007 3:11 PM Posted by Tom M

Despite the constant protestations of Leonard, I don't see whats "true" or "world class" about the City Center architecture. Other than the Veer towers, poorly sited to block the main resort, I think the images of CC I have seen on this and other sites are quite drab and normal. As far as the growth, I think this is the beginning of the baby boom retirement era. Also the younger generations have totally embraced the hip, crazy lifestyle that Vegas offers. We are in a perfect storm that will blow out thru around 2015-2020 when the baby boom gets too old and the gov't goes bankrupt on social security and medicare. that is when I predict all the expansionist building will stop for some time and visitation numbers and gambling growth will take a big hit. Water scarcity issues may make that sooner.

April 25, 2007 3:49 PM Posted by Nathan

Mike Ch, you read my mind! I've been doing research on the "water wars" in the west and found that Las Vegas and other cities are going so far to get more water - even from Canada! As Vegas continues to expand, I can't help but wonder what will happen to as water becomes even more scarce. And not just Vegas, but other cities like Los Angeles... But on another note, I think this expansion boom is avoiding themes such as Paris, Bellagio, Venetian, etc. I think that a building's architecture that doesn't have to deal with a specific time and place, will make the building more timeless. I think this started with Wynn... But I'm curious to know what people think of the water issues!

April 25, 2007 4:52 PM Posted by Hunter

It's interesting - people seem to either be very excited about City Center or not - there doesn't seem to be a lot of middle ground. I keep hearing the same things from both camps.

April 25, 2007 7:14 PM Posted by John

Honestly, I think the city is due for a drop in tourism. Everything has its peaks and troughs and the tourism industry isn't exempt from these cycles. However, I don't know when, if anytime in the near future, and downturn could occur. If, God forbid, there is another terrorist attack in the country, or anything else, Vegas will certainly be wedged between a rock and a hard place. How can these multi-billion dollar projects like CityCenter and Echelon survive if a sharp downturn in tourism occured? Honestly, if something like that were to happen, we could truly see the city return to its post 9/11 slump, if not something worse.

April 25, 2007 8:56 PM Posted by Christian

I have been saying that with such huge expansion that satiating each complex's financial needs will become harder and harder. I asked Hunter about it a while ago and he replied along the lines of saying competition will drive prices down slightly and draw people from the world around regardless.

While I see what Hunter was getting at, I still am in agreement with the rest of this board. What I think is the grass roots of the development craze is the theme style resorts started by Wynn. So then the question is posed of "what exactly makes a casino great, not just good". Passion has been my consistent answer...and thats rare anymore. We need to go outside the card shoes and cash boxes.

The savior to Las Vegas development and maintaining high visitor counts is a reconsideration of the client. We make such an effort to exceed expectations - but why not redefine the expecatations altogether. Yes - sure more easily said then done ... but with a wireless world of entertainment we need something more. Shopping, dining, shows - a great direction to head in but lets get more. World class concerts are here but rare.

Fostering creative minds is the key component in Las Vegas's future. I could only hope this is taken to heart.

As far as water, I think its safe to say people drink more alcohol here than water (hah). But seriously, it is a problem that has not really been given enough limelight other than the occasional warning.

April 25, 2007 9:02 PM Posted by Hunter

I absolutely still believe that everything will work itself out.

The market will make any necesarry corrections in the prices of the various resorts. As I've said before, the Monte Carlos of today are the Tropicanas of tomorrow - some of the middle-range fringe resorts (places barely hanging on to the mid-range price bracket) will be forced to lower their prices, though this won't happen in massive numbers.

Mostly the resorts will all get pretty good room rates and the value customer will move off the Strip and Downtown.

The baby boomer customer that is referenced in the article is such a huge component of the Vegas of the next 10-15 years, it's essential to understand that transition.

April 26, 2007 12:55 AM Posted by mike_ch

'The theme style resorts started by Wynn'? Man, I think Caesars wants to have a word with you.

April 26, 2007 10:24 AM Posted by BillyInLasVegas

Everything will work it self out, it always has in the past. Everyone has been predicting the demise of Las Vegas for years and so far they've been wrong.
Now water is a real issue here in Las Vegas but the strip generates so much revenue that they'll find a way to get water here, even if it means letting Utah go dry!

The good news is that with so many "high end" resorts going up the prices will come down across the board and it will be a great time to get an amazing room at a low price.

April 26, 2007 10:47 AM Posted by John

I'm not predicting the demise of the city, far from it. But a tourism recession could severly damage the city. It happened in the early to mid 80s and post 9/11. It will happen again, the only question is when.

April 26, 2007 12:15 PM Posted by detroit1051

The Southwest has grown without regard to its water issue. The attitude has always been, "Let the next generation worry about it; we'll figure something out when it's a crisis." And, they will. Maybe Michigan and the other Great Lakes states can bail out the southwest with pure midwest a price, of course.

April 26, 2007 1:23 PM Posted by mike_ch

A little OT, but I thought I'd mention that Bellagio was ranked #22 in an online survey of America's Favorite Architecture, putting it alongside Philadelphia's City Hall, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the former World Trade Center.

Two other hotels ranked higher than Bellagio, St Regis in NYC and Del Coronado near San Diego. The #1 building was, of course, the Empire State Building.

April 26, 2007 7:47 PM Posted by hail2skins

In the online edition they have a map of the Strip with pictures. One of them is for Encore, but the picture shows Palazzo in the foreground with the main Wynn tower in the back, making it appear like Palazzo is Wynn's expansion. I bet Brian Fey almost had a heart attack when he saw that.

Lets see, in early-to-mid-1998 you had Bellagio almost completed, Mandalay, Venetian, and Paris in mid-stage of construction, and Aladdin in the early stages. Now you have Palazzo almost complete, Encore and PCC in the early stages, Cosmo and Fontainbleau in the very early stages, and Echelon to break ground soon. I think the thing that puts this boom above all others is the hotel-condo component, with the developments at PCC and Echelon, the Palms Place and Trump towers under construction, not to mention places like Sky and Allure.

It'll be interesting to see where the visitation numbers stand after the projects currently under construction are built out, say in the 2011-12 timeframe. Vegas visitorship was relatively flat during the 80s but took a step forward when Mirage and Excal opened. It really accelerated after Luxor, TI, and MGM opened, going from 23.5 million to close to 28 million in one year. I didn't think they 'd be able to repeat that with the 1998-2000 wave, but by the end of 2000 I think visitorship had gone to close to 36 million
from like 30.5 million in 1998. True, 9/11 did impact Vegas, but in the most recent years it seems to have picked up again.

What'll be interesting to me is to see where the development will go if and when that second airport in Ivanpah opens. There's a lot of space down there....didn't MGM purchase a bunch near Jean? I'm not suggesting that the development would be anywhere near it is in Las Vegas proper, but a mini-Strip down there isn't out of the realm of possibility, IMO.

April 27, 2007 7:48 AM Posted by motoman

Wow, I was beginning to think I was some kind of nut for bringing up that water issue a while back. But you don't need to be an envirogeek to figure that one out.

Unfortunately detroit is right, not just about water (electricity for all that neon and air conditioning, anyone?) in that we always figure it's the next generation's problem. That multibillion-dollar pipeline from up north will be built and the (relatively few) farmers and ranchers in Nevada will become a memory, and for all anyone else will know Nevada was always a desert state.

mike_ch made the point that California takes much Colorado River water but those water rights were granted long ago. The most interesting idea I read was Nevada "buying" water credits from CA as new-generation desalination plants come online there.

And, "Nova" on PBS just had a fascinating show about new solar technologies which would be ideal in a place like Nevada.

July 13, 2007 3:38 PM Posted by Luis Cuban

In no way disrespecting anyone, but a lot of you don't understand the las vegas economy. Its supported more by international visitors than domestic. The visitor rate is growing annually, as well as growth from the local casino market. vegas is here to stay, and will only continue to grow until it hits its eventual peak. But big companies are not dumb enough to invest 5 billion per project for the travel sector to drop anytime soon. Look at the numbers after 9/11. Las Vegas was the only city in the US to keep its travel base in 2002. The city is strengthened also by the proliferation of gambling all around the country. It is a very good situation out there, and now with the growth of non-gaming businesses, it should have one of the healthiest economies of any major city in the US.