Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

September 25, 2009

Las Vegas Innovator Bob Stupak Passes Away

Posted by Hunter

Bob Stupak, creator of Vegas World and The Stratosphere Tower, died today at 67.

Other media outlets can eulogize him far better than I can but I'll say this: even if his creations were not up your alley, the guy had a massive impact on Las Vegas as it is today.


Read archived comments (9 so far)
September 25, 2009 4:40 PM Posted by Socalduck

I remember stumbling in to Vegas World during a college spring break trip in the mid-80s. A weird and kinda scary place, nothing like the bland Stratosphere. Bob Stupak was a legend, one of the last of a vanishing breed.

September 25, 2009 6:45 PM Posted by detroit1051

I have Bob Stupak to thank/blame for my initial interest in Las Vegas. The Detroit newspapers were inundated with ads every Sunday in the early 1980's for great deals to Vegas World. When I got there and saw the property, I left. First place I stayed at was the original MGM Grand, now Bally's.

September 26, 2009 10:00 AM Posted by mike_ch

Detroit: At least you got to see the property! That's another one of those "if I had a time machine..."

But yeah, to me Stupak isn't much better than a scam artist for all those offers and the deceptively horrible games (sometimes still played at the Strat as of a few years ago, don't think I've seen them the past several times I've gone to the buffet.)

I remember when I was younger and reading up on the histories and background of various Strip resorts to see where they came from (I never went in the Desert Inn, but was sad to see the good half of it implode for Encore in 05-06 after finding out what a long runner it was.) Having read plenty about the Space Needle's history as a World's Fair icon and the CN Tower's existence for radio & tv transmission, I wondered who thought a tower in Vegas would be a good idea and was shocked to find it was built by a dump scam joint run by quite a cartoon character.

Back when it was called DejaNews, I had the URL to the newsgroup discussion over the announcement of the tower (basically went "Stupak plans to build this tower" "I wouldn't want to be in it when the test site explosions go off!") however, I still found this discussion over the math of his horrible vacation packages, for those who want amusement.

September 26, 2009 7:17 PM Posted by detroit1051

Mike, you're making me feel old. I remember my parents attending a convention at Desert Inn in 1960 or so. My Mom coudn't stop talking about how the room even had a telephone next to the toilet. That was unheard of.
The first time I stayed there, it was in a low rise building on the golf course. What a great place. That was before ITT Sheraton took it over.

Regarding Stratosphere, I've often wondered how safe it was after the fire. Did the heat affect the integrity of the concrete?

September 27, 2009 12:17 AM Posted by John

It's funny to read someone or writes "I prefer to stay at Circus Circus."

September 27, 2009 1:26 AM Posted by mike_ch

Detroit: It probably did a little damage, but given that it wasn't hot enough to cause the crane to topple over it apparently wasn't that bad.

Really, with one leg kinda screwy and another leg at street edge, there's way more engineering concerns to be worried about.

I've made some jokes that going up the Strat is a bit like taking your life into your own hands and living dangerously because of how many undesirable incidents occurred in the construction. As silly as that sounds, it did provide some mental guts when crossing the CN's glass floor.

September 28, 2009 1:05 PM Posted by Phil

Agree with the above comments, he was a last of a breed. No corporate BS, just a guy with dream and without interference, made it happen. Vegas World wasn't a place I particularly had a lot of luck at. I never got the impression that it was a locals joint, more of a take joint, but it was quintessetial Vegas. A place you would find nowhere else. I'll take Vegas World anyday over Statosphere.

September 28, 2009 11:14 PM Posted by Doug

I remember 'Vegas World' in the early 1980's and it was a nothing but a carnival designed to take your money. And to this day I've never been back to the property.

The original MGM Grand (now Ballys) was a great hotel before the fire - I really liked the place.

Of course, I could go way back and really date myself by talking about the Desert Inn in the 1970's - a total class place. Or the time I stayed downtown at the Mint hotel during 'The Fabulous Mint 400'. (No, I wasn't there when Hunter Thompson was there, but it was the same era).

Sometimes I miss the 'old Vegas', but not much - the food was awful and you never felt like the casinos were being straight with you at the tables.

October 8, 2009 4:53 AM Posted by RAM

Yea, humble family man - raised and nurtchered by the mob. Good riddance....