Harrah’s Entertainment is reportedly seeking a building permit for a three-story, 72,000-square-foot Strip-front build-out on the southwest corner of Paris Las Vegas. That space, which now has a fountain and an outdoor dining area, would get a retail store, new restaurants and a nightclub.
Tag Archives: Las Vegas business
Apart from some staunch Las Vegans who feel – and sincerely hope – that “Sin City” will change its long-standing dastardly moniker and morph into a hotbed for bio-med and other non-sordid industries, it’s not going to happen, at least according to many Las Vegas authorities, including casino mogul Sheldon Addison and his many cohorts.
Las Vegas has, is, and apparently always will be all about entertainment oozing from its every eclectic pore. Tourists, the Las Vegas lifeblood, come to entertain and be entertained– and, like the advertising slogans oft allude to, not always in the most savory of pursuits.
Having a drink- or ten – staying up to the wee hours, while chasing microscopic skirts or quaffed GQ gents is the regular modus operandi for many in Las Vegas.
But could that historic Las Vegas lifestyle be facing evolutionary, if not revolutionary, pressure to change?
Taking the cue from pop entertainment icon visitors Brit-Brit, Paris Hilton, LiLo, and others, perhaps that decadent, yet strangely renewing lifestyle of old is, like life itself, changing– is guzzling chic water and partaking in only good clean fun becoming the evolving new order ruling the night?
Enter Prive Nightclub, the current poster child for potentially a ‘New Deal’ in Vegas. The nightclub reopened late last Friday night to throngs of partygoers waiting for hours to get in after the club was shut down and a $500,000 fine paid by Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in July to Nevada gambling regulators for the private Las Vegas nightclub’s many prior indiscretions, including hiring employees with criminal records, allowing minors inside the club and permitting underage drinking, drug use, taking dangerously drunk customers and dropping them off unattended in the casino, and physical and sexual assault by nightclub employees. [July 19 Las Vegas Backstage Access article.]
It was almost like the past never happened. In fact, many party going tourists from outside Las Vegas, didn’t even know the trendy club and sister ultralounge, The Living Room, had been shut down. Once one was lucky (and skillful) enough fight the throng of hundreds waiting behind the entry ropes and get the inside, they found the club didn’t miss a single thundering beat, testified by the quaking, packed dance floor and eye-candy go-go dancers aplenty shaking their overflowing assets like no tomorrow. Rapper and music producer Jermaine Dupri took to the turntables later in the evening, seemingly possessed and oblivious to the prior entertainment history lesson.
What was different, though, was that topless and otherwise lewd and somewhat lascivious activity – the stuff that made Las Vegas a leading “no tell” tourist destination – was curiously absent. Add to the fact, hotel-casino staffs were also allowed to enter unencumbered, not escorted by Prive security, as was the customary practice before, presumably to catch sin before it starts.
Prive is encouraged to remain in good graces, as their temporary opening license is good only through Sept. 20, unless it is extended by the county. Before that, on Sept. 1, club officials are scheduled to appear before the Clark County Commission to check to see if they are remaining nice and not naughty.
Before you think this Prive incident is a statistical rare anomaly, think again. Much like the H1N1 pandemic virus, club actions similar to Prive are all pervasive in Las Vegas– it’s just that similar nightclubs haven’t been caught- yet.
While Las Vegas Backstage Access doesn’t ever condone actions that hurt anyone, intentionally or unintentionally, save this, we feel that partying and risqué fun in the spirit of Las Vegas isn’t such a bad thing. Las Vegas is not Olathe, Kansas.
In the final analysis, is Las Vegas squeezing the “sin” out of Sin City?
Will late night milk and cookies, and an occasional Stevie D trendy gourmet sucker, rule the New Vegas scene, much to the detriment and demise of a unique lifestyle- and contribute to further waning of club revenues?
How time zooms by at warp speed when you’re passionate in what you do and have a never say die attitude. Success is the tasty fruit of victory. Just ask Sally Steele, publisher for VEGAS ROCKS! magazine. Fighting the grasp of corporate Las Vegas biggies that apparently enjoy swooping in for the media kills and “friends” that say she couldn’t pull it off, Steele has squashed her detractors and beaten all odds and is now celebrating five years in business in Las Vegas. Way to go, Sally!
The once jilted bride and single mother, with no prior experience in publishing, made bank for her and her children by driving limousines in the wee hours and backstreets of Vegas. But, during it all, the dream and passion of publishing a Las Vegas rock n’ roll music magazine remained uppermost in her mind and actions.
Celebrating her achievement while recognizing those many supporters and true friends who have steadfastly believed in her and given so much, Steele is having a blow-out fifth anniversary rock n’ roll party like no other on August 29. The best rockers will be on hand to wish her well. You’re invited to come out and join in on all the fun and great music.
For more details, please visit www.clubzone.com/events/las_vegas/132773/premierclublv or www.VegasRocks.com to buy tickets online.
Congratulations, Sally, Las Vegas Backstage Access wishes you all the best and continued success!
The Hoodie Awards were set up in 2001 to honor the best U.S. small business educators and community leaders in several categories for the contributions they make to their communities.
The Hoodie Award unique categories include best high school, car wash, soul food place, nail shop, barbershop, fried chicken, high school teacher, barbecue place, beauty salon, church, church choir and community leader.
This awards show, best described as the Oscars with an urban beat, features a diverse and talented group of celebrities, actors, comedians and recording artists who present non-traditional awards to the stars of the community.
The accompanying Freedom Party will be held Friday, Aug. 14 in the Mandalay Bay East parking lot from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. and will feature food and entertainment.
The 7th Annual Hoodie Awards will be held in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay Events Center on Aug.15, hosted by Steve Harvey.
So, what else is new for “anything goes” La Vegas? For Alison Wainwright, founder and president of Las Vegas Mannequins, being creepy is just the solution she needed to not just defy and insulate her from the ravages of the recession, but experience rapid growth as well.
Although mannequins make the flesh crawl for many people, she has the distinction of having Las Vegas’ only full-service source for the purchase, rental and repair of mannequins, torsos, lower bodies, heads, glossies, poseables, plastic, fiberglass, faceless ciphers, and full-featured dummies. Made in men, women, teens and children models, she even takes it one step further, offering “sexy mannequins,” which are “bigger.”
Some of her sales – full-size mannequins sell for between $150 and $330, with rentals for a only a little less – go to adult entertainment businesses and burlesque dancers who arrange their costumes on them.
Las Vegas police officers buy mannequins for use in car crash demonstrations, faux planted officers in cars to slow down drivers on freeways, and provide lifelike shooting targets.
Others use the creepy bits and pieces for Halloween displays and haunted houses. Students like them for art projects and movies. But far and away, the bulk of Wainwright’s business comes from conventions, especially clothing expos.
The convention business is where Wainwright started out in 2004. Since then she has rented a storage unit, and then moved into a warehouse just west of the Wynn Las Vegas.
Sales have been up 100 percent, just as they have been every year since she opened. And in the last two years her mannequins have made it possible to buy her a new house.
Is the pre-eminent Malaysian hotel and gaming company Genting Bhd working out a deal with the MGM Mirage in Las Vegas? Reports out of Asia indicate that Genting’s Resorts World Bhd bought $100 million of MGM Mirage debt. This debt had been sold as part of the MGM Mirage balance sheet restructuring.
There are more questions than answers right now: How will this impact the MGM Macau casino’s? With the current MGM partner – Pansy Ho – being deemed unsuitable because of possible organized crime connections, is this move designed to bring in a party that the Nevada regulators would approve? What would the direct effect be on the MGM Mirage’ Las Vegas business ventures including the MGM Hotel and Casino and City Center?
Stay pointed to Las Vegas Backstage Access for the latest developments.
Las Vegas is not going back to their heyday of charging $500 per night room rates. With ever increasing competition and the growing room inventory, those days are probably gone forever.
But visitors are now at least starting to return to the bright neon of Las Vegas, lured by the lower relative room rates and successful direct marketing drives by Las Vegas hotels that are filling the weekday void left by conventiongoers whose budgets have dwindled.
Las Vegas vigorous room marketing efforts are at last starting to pay off.
With Las Vegas hotel demand and occupancy rates inching upwards, Las Vegas resort executives are rethinking their room strategies and are considering increasing room rates, a move that could contribute to improving their sagging profit margins and contribute to the start of a healthy Las Vegas business rebound in 2010.
“The weekends are consistently solid now,” MGM Mirage CEO Jim Murren said during a conference call last week to discuss first-quarter earnings. “Even when we don’t have a major event we are able to occupy rooms at a solid level.”
In January, MGM Mirage’s hotels had an occupancy rate in the 70s- a respectable statistic for many major cities but ranked poor for Las Vegas, where hotels have historically operated at higher than 90 percent occupancy. That figures has risen each month this year, reaching 95 percent in March and 97 percent in April, in line with a year ago before business worsened.
Las Vegas room rates although increasing, are still depressed, according to official figures from earnings reports and tourism officials. MGM Mirage’s revenue per available room was $102, or 34 percent lower in the first quarter than the year-earlier period.
Undaunted, Phil Ruffin, who bought Treasure Island from MGM Mirage in March, plans to raise their room rates. “I’m not going to give rooms away. That’s a heads-in-beds philosophy,” Ruffin said. “I don’t want the $50 customer.”
You can still make money – more money, in fact – by running at 70 to 90 percent occupancy and charging more for rooms, according to Ruffin.
Whether this strategy and others like it continues to work depends on the ongoing reaction of recession-battered tourists that have now tasted sweet vintage hotel price deals in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas tourism growth, analysts say, will only continue if tourists believe they’re getting a bargain and a good combination deal- not just a good room rate, but meals, shows and drinks as well.
The recession has slowed much of the recent growth in downtown Las Vegas, but Mayor Oscar Goodman’s dream of a downtown renaissance is still alive. Goodman cut the ribbon at last Thursday’s opening of the El Cortez Cabana Suites, a boutique hotel adjacent to the longtime downtown property.
The Cabana Suites, developed on the site of the 100-room Ogden House, is located at the corner of Ogden Avenue and 6th Street. Billed as the “sassy younger sister” to the El Cortez, owners hope the aqua-blue exterior and posh lobby make the property stand out in a neighborhood that has seen stunted growth in recent years.
Word also came last Friday that another Las Vegas downtown business, the Galaxy Theaters at Neonopolis, closed its doors. The move leaves the once promising entertainment complex without an anchor tenant.
Actor Joe Pesci, right, who won an Oscar for his supporting role in the 1990 mob classic “Goodfellas,” is apparently going into refined cahoots with Las Vegas convicted racketeer Rick Rizzolo, left, planning to slice up the payola coming from opening up several pizza joints called “Pesci’s Pizza Parlors” in Las Vegas, with several others in a foreign country.
Tough-guy actor Pesci is keeping the business dealings close to the cuff, though, disavowing any connection with Rizzolo, simply saying his longtime friend and personal assistant Tommy DeVito – and story source – “was confused.”
Pesci quickly switched gears, saying he is partnering with Las Vegas businessmen Sig Rogich, a prominent public relations that advised the presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and Elias Ghanem II, who works for Wynn Resorts in the executive training program. Ghanem’s dad, Dr. Elias Ghanem, was known as the “physican to the stars,” serving celebrities including Elvis Presley, Liberace, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Ann-Margret, and Wayne Newton.
Currently finalizing the new business paperwork, they plan to be in business in four or five months, according to longtime Pesci associate Tommy DeVito, who has lived in Las Vegas since 1970.
DeVito, 80, and Pesci, 66, have been guitar-playing pals since they were 11-years-old and living in New Jersery. DeVito, center, went on to form the Frankie Valli-led Four Seasons and was the group’s leading guitarist until a falling out with the group over his mounting gambling debts.
Pesci is a producer of the “Jersey Boys,” a musical based on the lives of the Four Seasons. A spinoff of the Broadway hit has been playing in Las Vegas for a year at The Palazzo.
Pesci and DeVito are such close friends that Pesci called DeVito a couple of months before the filming began on Martin Scorcese’s “Casino” to say he was taking the name Tom DeVito for his character, a mob thug based on Las Vegas hit man Anthony “The Ant” Spilotro.
Rick Rizzolo, 50, received notoriety during the Las Vegas “G-Sting” federal trial, causing former Justice Department Organized Strike Force prosecutor Stan Hunteroton to exclaim to the court: “Not since the reign of Anthony Spilotro and his associates has there been a more infamous hoodlum than Rick Rizzolo.”
Rizzolo was among 17 defendants, including Las Vegas city officials, later found guilty on a related charge. He served 11 months of a sentence of one year and one day before his release last year. Rizzolo was also ordered to sell the Las Vegas topless cabaret Crazy Horse Too business and placed under three years of supervised release and fined $250,000.
‘Dying’ to taste their pizza? Maybe they could open up a pizza parlor in the planned Las Vegas Mob Museum?
Despite the sour economy and Nevada gaming revenues being down almost 10 percent in 2008 and more than 16 percent down over the first two months of 2009, is apparently not an overriding concern for officials for the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas who remain optimistic and confident that the variety and depth of the best poker players in the world will be the draw needed for the 57-event WSOP tournament that begins its six-week run May 26 at The Rio, the host casino for the event.
To sweeten the pot, a $40,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event on May 28 is expected to draw poker’s most elite players. Then, two days later, the tournament will host a $1,000 buy-in no-limit event that is expected to attract another approximate 6,000 players.
If that’s not enough draw, on May 31, a special two-day Champions Invitational will take place with the 27 living previous World Series of Poker world champions being invited to participate in a no-limit hold’em event.
The 2009 World Series of Poker event will include 10 World Championship $10,000 buy-in events and seven $1,500 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournaments. The $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. event, which mixes five different poker games, will take place on June 26. The $10,000 buy-in World Championship No-Limit Hold’em Main Event will being on July 3 and reach its final table of nine players on July 15.
For the second straight year, players will then wait four months before returning to the Rio on November 7 to play for the championship, which ESPN will televise on a same-day taped delay.
Last year’s World Series of Poker event in Las Vegas drew 58,720 entries from 124 countries and awarded a prize pool of more than $180.7 million. The winner in November was 22-year-old Peter Eastgate of Denmark, who became the tournament’s youngest-ever word champion, taking away $9.15 million in a four-hour heads-up final table with Russian Ivan Demidov.
The Elvis-themed resort planned for the Las Vegas Strip may not become a reality. A group of investors who had planned to build the resort on the 18 acres across from CityCenter could be forced to sell their property because of a default on a $475 million mortgage loan.
New York-based FX Real Estate and Entertainment said its lenders informed the company on April 9 of the bank’s intention to sell the land “to satisfy the principal amount…owed to them under the mortgage loan and secured by the property.”
FX said it would not be able to resolve the default issue by the May 18 deadline and “is considering all legal options, including bankruptcy proceedings” to prevent the sale of the property.
The bad economy, $5 beer prices, and long lines didn’t put a damper on the high spirits last night in Las Vegas as The Killers performed to a sold-out crowd during the opening night of The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel.
Among the celebrities in attendance were tennis great Andre Agassi and wife Steffi Graf, actor Owen Wilson and Stephen Dorff.
The new Joint is a bigger, shinier version of the old Joint, complet with a better sound and lighting system and overall crowd experience. It also features balconies and VIP suites designed for high rollers, with food ranging from sushi to burger sliders.
Tonight’s show is Avenged Sevenfold and on Sunday Paul McCartney takes the stage.
The looming question that remains is whether the new Joint and the $750 million renovation can help to bring back the good ol’ entertainment days when virtually all major performer performed at the Las Vegas venue.
Like to get away from it all? Have a brewskie and try your luck at video poker? Now you can get all that and – if you’re really feeling lucky – a new 9mm Smith and Wesson handgun to call your own and have some good clean fun!
The O’Aces Bar & Grill in Las Vegas, 4955 S. Decatur Blvd., is amping up their promotions campaign to lure in a new caliber of customers in our knee-deep recession. They’re offering a smokin’ 9mm Smith and Wesson handgun as their jackpot to any video poker customer that is lucky enough to hit two royal flush bullseyes within a month. That’s right.
The spirited promotion is stirring up a whirlwind of controversy, even for a city that sees and does it all. Some say it’s downright dangerous, providing a legal license to kill. Bar management quickly counters, saying they’re just being innovative and trying anything they can to survive, adding “it’s our right to bear arms.”
So far, their innovative new business promotion is proving to be a silver bullet killer- they’re bringing in customers they’ve never seen before.
No word on what President Obama is planning to do to curb the proliferation of such handguns.
Win two royals and a scantily clad cocktail waitress just slings you the shiny gun from under the bar and you pack out the heat ? Wrong. Instead, the winning, albeit most likely tipsy gambler receives a voucher that they then take to a gun store, pass a background check, pay the license fees- then pack the heat.
And, yesiree, there are some other strings attached: Gamblers need to plunk down at least a buck twenty-five and they must be active O’Aces rewards club members.
Hurry, don’t miss out on this gunslinging action. There’s still time to win. Several of their customers have won one royal flush, but not two of the winning hands- yet.
We’ve all spent mind-expanding, sometimes numbing, but yet entertaining hours watching at one time or another television quiz shows like “Jeopardy,” “Wheel of Fortune” and “Family Feud.”
The brainchild behind these shows and others like them over the past 25 years is Las Vegas resident Mark Richards. He’s now trying for a revival. But instead of trendy television being the medium, he’s hoping that his new weekly two-hour radio quiz show will grab and hold the attention of Las Vegas listeners.
Richards’ current object of affection is called the “The Radio Game Show,” which will be an amalgamation of his prior shows and premiers on KNUU970-AM in Las Vegas at 1:05 p.m. PST this Sunday, April 12.
“Nobody in the country is doing a game show on radio,” says Richard, who also owns a video production company. “Some stations are doing contests for tickets for show, but not a game show like this one.”
If successful, the quiz show guru plans to syndicate his show across the country.
He might just have his dream come true. After all, he has succeeded with the show in the past. The show ran in the San Diego, Los Angeles, and other cities in the 1980s. He even brought the show to Las Vegas in 1990, where it aired for about two weeks on KVEG 97.5-FM and then on KENO 1460-AM for about three years.
Godspeed, Mr. Richards.
Our economy is tanking, but don’t tell that to the thousands of tourists that daily fly in helicopters to get a birdseye view of the majestic Grand Canyon. An average of 99 helicopters fly out daily from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, just six fewer than the 2005 peak. And that doesn’t include the additional 3,500 customers that are planned to fly daily from the new Boulder City Aerocenter [Las Vegas Backstage Access April 2 article].
The first phase of the proposed 229-acre Sloan heliport, costing an estimated $115 million and projected for a mid-2011 completion, will provide the home for 80 to 110 helipads.
That will make the heliport the biggest on the planet, say Federal Aviation Administration officials.
The heliport will also clear McCarran airport space for jetliners to bring much-needed tourists to boost the Las Vegas Valley’s economy, while safely moving helicopters away from crowded city neighborhoods.
The FAA has recently signed off on the environmental assessment that now paves the way for the Bureau of Land Management to transfer the Sloan heliport property to Clark County.
Heliport project groundbreaking is planned for early 2010.
Maverick Helicopters is planned to be the first tenant to lease heliport space, which may approved as early as April 7 when the Clark County commissioners meet to discuss the matter. Two more tour operators could join Maverick in occupying the heliport.
As former topless cabaret mogul and government informant Michael Galardi walks the Las Vegas Strip schmoozing and looking for a new gig, a high-stakes strip poker match of a different type is agressively being played out at many Las Vegas topless adult entertainment clubs.
Long a “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” accepted business practice, Las Vegas strip clubs handsomely tipped cabbies that delivered lusty patrons to their doorstep. Fifty bucks was the norm for over a decade.
As home prices and sales continue to plummet and people try to find jobs or at least hold on to their employment, many Las Vegas topless strip clubs have seen fit to double the cab tip ante to at least $100 per customer. That new ransom could equates to an average estimated payout of $5 million a year by each participating strip club. A C-note buy in for participating in the cash-for-customers game is commonly paid by Ricks’ Cabaret Gentlemen’s Club, Treasures, Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club, and many more- at least the ones that aren’t secretly looking for new owners or staving off their bankruptcy.
No end appears in sight for the advancing Taxi Topless War. Many clubs are trying to recoup rising “acquisition” costs by charging higher cover charges and drink prices. Rick’s CEO and President Eric Langan mirrors the intentions of many strip club owners, saying he has no intention to be outbid by his Sin City bretheren and is willing to write off the expenses as the cost of marketing.
As Las Vegas cab and limo drivers rake in record amounts of dough, they’re also arguing more with doormen to cut ever higher deals. And it’s not uncommon to see cab drivers pass up picking up ladies waiting for a ride on the street in favor of waiting gents that can bring them more revenue.
Casino hosts, too, are also rapidly buying in to the very lucrative cash-for-customers game. They’re not just referring their clients to the strip clubs, but hosting them inside the caverns of lust.
And, of course, you can bet your last dollar that the IRS will eventually come sniffing around and look for its due.
Recession hitting the Las Vegas topless clubs? Pshaw!
The Las Vegas Art Museum shutdown last month. The Nevada Ballet has cutback on staff and postponed programs. The Las Vegas Philharmonic is cutting back and holding on.
The Nevada Opera Theatre, though feeling the economic impact, is cushioned somewhat by their pre-recession budgeting.
“The effect on us has not been as traumatic as on the philharmonic and the ballet because of their much larger agenda and audience participation,” said founder and director Eileen Hayes, whose theatre actually has seen a budget increase from about $225,000 to $300,000.
“Yes, contributions have been down, especially between the last two years and this year, but we’ve been in the mode of reducing our once big deficit dramatically over the last few years. And our audience attendance is really starting to rebound.”
Beyond those factors, the company has not tied itself to a set season of performances and the attendant costs. When it does perform, it is at smaller, less expensive venues. Though for the past two years the company has not staged its usual production at UNLV’s large Artemus Ham Hall, Hayes expects that to resume. Tickets have been kept less than $50, and the group has kept close tabs on production budgets.
“We’re just being very careful what we do,” Hayes said. “We have cut back on guest performers over the last several years. We used to bring in entire sets and costumes, but now we’ve gotten frugal and rent pieces locally and from Southern California. We used to rent entire sets from New York, but those days are gone.”
At Opera Las Vegas, finances are actually on the upswing. Citing “prudent and creative fundraising,” Hal West, vice president of marketing and public relations, said his company is aiming for a 50 percent budgetary hike, increasing program investments from $50,000 to $75,000. Containing expenditures by staging only two productions this year, they briefly considered doubling the top $40 ticket price but nixed that notion.
Similarly, the 32-year-old Las Vegas Little Theatre, Las Vegas’ oldest community theater, is functioning fairly well on a nearly $200,000 budget, maintaining six productions in the main stage theater and three in the smaller Black Box.
“We’re not rolling in money, but we’re no worse than in previous years, paying our rent and electric bills,” said board President Walter Niejadlik, noting that keeping expectations reasonable and avoiding grandiose goals helps steady the balance sheet. “We’re not doing huge productions costing $20,000 a pop that never have a shot at making money back. It’s the undoing of a lot of arts organizations in this town. Everyone’s going to be the next greatest thing, doing art for art’s sake, but with no business sense.”
Theater audiences traditionally skew older than for other art forms — on average, 65 to 70 years old, Niejadlik said — with more discretionary income to spend on the arts. But that demographic reality has a sad side: the steady attrition of season subscribers. Las Vegas Little Theatre loses about 70 subscribers a year.
“Without being terribly morbid, they’re dying,” Niejadlik said. “We get a list of subscribers who have passed away. Our big focus is on getting younger folks into the theater.”
In this choking, restless economy, how do you draw better focus to your Las Vegas casino or hotel? Simple: Put a camera view on the side of your business.
SkyTag, a building wrap design firm, has provided the ‘guiding light,’ draping two sides of the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas with an advertisement that mimics what you see when you look through the lens of your camera or video recorder.
This “camera” is taking a photograph of the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. By using this local landmark as the centerpiece to the design, SkyTag has managed to not just focus attention on the Luxor but also focus attention on Las Vegas. And with some luck, this campaign may just focus attention on SkyTag itself as a viable advertising alternative.
While most segments of Nevada’s economy have been shrinking, if not temporarily disappearing all together, there’s one area that not only met budget projections but those projections earned more than $100 million dollars for various Nevada coffers.
The Nevada Film Office (NFO) announced that film related production revenue for 2008 totaled $110,552,900, making it the 9th year that the NFO has met their $100 million benchmark.
“The figures from the last decade confirm that Nevada is at the forefront of the film industry as a production destination.” said Luis Valera, Commissioner for the Nevada Commission on Economic Development.
The NFO assists a variety of productions including commercials, television series and student and feature movies. The movie “21” and CSI: Las Vegas are favorites that come to mind. But already in 2009 the reality program The Locator, comedy show Howie Do It and the news program ABC Primetime have all completed Las Vegas filming segments.
In 2008, the current box office smash Race to Witch Mountain spent several weeks filming in downtown Las Vegas- and it didn’t just spend time under the glitzy neon glamour lighting. As with other productions, non-Strip Las Vegas facilities served as useful and realistic filming locations. The Fergusons Motel on 10th street was the home of down on his luck hero cabbie Jack Bruno (aka Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson). The El Cortez Hotel and perennial filming favorite, Planet Hollywood, was featured prominently. And in addition to filming on the Strip and through Fremont Street, the Race to Witch Mountain crew spent time working at Red Rock Canyon – which once again appears to be the perfect setting for another far, far away and very arid planet.
With a growing list of Las Vegas film projects already approved and permitted for 2009, this is sure to be another banner year for NFO revenues. That should translate into more revenue in the bank for hotels, caterers and equipment rental agencies. And, of course, Las Vegas residents who earn extra bucks playing extras, will continue to bring Nevada to life on plasma TVs around the world.
With this amount of money spent by film crews each year, Las Vegas won’t even mind if the hero makes a grand exit through the side door of the Tropicana and walks out under the blinking winking lights of the Fremont Street canopy (Angel – Season 4 – The House Always Wins).
After all, the buck stopped in Las Vegas, right?
The mob has been doing much less ‘planting’ nowadays. And with the many stalled and failed casino construction projects dotting the Las Vegas landscape brought on by an ever constricting economy, it’s no secret that Las Vegas has a ton – maybe two? – of ready and willing concrete at its disposal.
Grabbing this weighty waste opportunity, UNLV engineering students have built and are planning to race a buoyant concrete canoe in the fiercely competitive 2009 National ASCE Concrete Canoe Competition in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on June 11-13.
But first they must clear the regional competition hurdle, finishing in the top five in competitions set from April 1 through 4 in Hawaii. About 20 teams are competing.
To win it will take equal parts of technical skill, creativity and determination.
Created from a year’s worth of blood, sweat, and tears, the slippery smooth, svelte 250-pound black, blue, and white canoe with a UNLV mosaic on the bottom, and the name Kiss Our Glass on the side, was engineered to be a precise 20 feet long and 30 inches wide. It has to be made that precise. That’s the rules.
The races, endurance, sprint, and slalom combined, count for 25 percent of the overall score. The remaining 75 percent is based equally on a submitted technical design paper that highlights the planning, development, testing and construction of the team’s canoe; a formal oral presentation, in which the team has to detail their canoe’s design, construction, racing ability and other innovative features, as well as defend their choices to the judges during a question and answer session; and the end product-the final racing canoe and project display, which is scored on aesthetics and visual presentation.
Tiffany Hearn, 22, the senior engineering student and captain of the UNLV canoe-building team, haunchos the seven-member team of other UNLV engineering students that are trying to field a winning canoe.
Engineering students at UNLV and all over the country do this every year. They enter local and regional competitions. A national champion is declared. Last year the University of Nevada, Reno won.
UNLV has never made it past the regional competition. Last year they came in 11th place, their best finish yet. Maybe a win is in their cards this year. Maybe it isn’t. That’s not the point.
“This is a big project that takes months to complete. They have to be able to work as a team,” said Bill Culbreth, an associate dean in UNLV’s college of engineering. “Most engineering projects will work that way.”
So it is that the national concrete canoe competition is more than a boat-building contest. It’s a metaphor for the real world — where there is not nor will there ever be a market for boats made of sand, glue and water.
Noe Santos, 21, the team member most responsible for figuring out how to make this particular blend of concrete, doesn’t even plan on working in that area after he graduates in May. He’ll be doing research on solar cells.
In the meantime, he and the rest of the UNLV team have spent at least 40 hours every week since May working on this canoe. “No Christmas vacation. No Valentine’s. No anything,” Hearn said.
Santos further explained that you can’t use just any old concrete – and, no, they didn’t use our scrap casino concrete – to make a canoe that actually works. The competition’s rules say the canoe must float back to the surface after being submerged. UNLV has never done well on that test.
The secret to the team’s confidence this year is the concrete concoction, which weighs in at 54 pounds per cubic foot, about 8 pounds lighter than water.
The concrete, lined with a carbon fiber reinforcing mesh and with tiny metal cables, is then blended with tiny glass bubbles and hollow glass beads about the size of ice cream sprinkles so the concrete has little air pockets inside.
In the past, UNLV’s teams have blended the concrete with rocks. They’ve had hits and misses, a couple of times suffering competition-ending catastrophic failures; the boats broke in half.
But not this year, the team members say.
The team took their boat out to a man-made lake at Desert Shores on March 14. They rowed in it. They sank it. But the good news it that it came right back up.
To work on their speed, team members have been practicing twice a week in a traditional fiberglass canoe. They’re getting pretty fast.
Las Vegas Backstage Access hopes the UNLV team is just fast enough- taking home their first win!
On Thursday members of a Senate-Assembly budget panel rejected Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons’ proposed cultural program cuts, saying they want to find funding to keep Nevada’s museums operating at close to current levels as possible.
Under the governor’s submitted proposal, spending on cultural programs would have been cut nearly 36 percent, to $19.1 million over two years, and staffing would be cut by up to 40 percent.
The just-renovated East Ely Railroad Depot Museum and Comstock History Center in Virginia City would have been closed, the staff of the Nevada Historical Society would be cut, and other museums would be open only four days per week.
“Our recommendation [to the governor] was to basically leave them open with a little bit of cut, but keep them operating as much as possible,” said Nevada Assemblyman Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, the budget subcommittee co-chairman.
To potentially provide some additional Nevada museum funding, the subcommittee rejected the $7.7 million state computer program proposed by Governor Gibbons.
If the museums remain open, Denis said, revenue from admission costs could also help the crisis.
Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, also suggested museums review their policies on use of volunteers to provide adequate staffing at facilities.
Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said the new Nevada State Museum at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve would have to wait until the 2011 legislative session. That would mean the earliest the museum could open, according to Denis, would be 2013.
If budget cuts are approved as is, library hours would be reduced from eight to four per day, staff would be reduced by half, and state library and museum archives could only be accessed by appointment.
Like it or not, peddlers lining the Las Vegas sidewalks, clicking their provocative handbills, and otherwise hawking adult entertainment promotions to passerbys is a part of our historic, colorful fabric, and, for some, this perhaps adds to our alluring mystique. After all, we are Sin City, right?
One can regularly see such peddlers on the sidewalks of the Las Vegas Strip, in front of the Las Vegas Convention Center, and many other places around town. Almost everywhere except for congregating in original Las Vegas, more specifically the Fremont Street Experience.
A court ruling recently set aside several Las Vegas ordinances that sought to limit such activities at the Fremont Street Experience. Of course the laws could be once again appealed, but Las Vegas’ colorful Mayor Oscar Goodman, in his last term of office, said recently that it might be time to let the 12-year-old on and off again lawsuit go.
The Las Vegas City Council will hear its options at an upcoming meeting, he said, and can weigh in on the merits of appealing the decision, trying to craft another set of ordinances or take some other approach.
Quickly turning the other cheek, though, Mayor Goodman said Las Vegas would staunchly fight anyone who tried to pass out adult material, such as escort advertisements handed out on the Strip.
“You don’t want to see one of these situations where a man takes his daughter down to Fremont Street to see the light show and has some smut shoved in his daughter’s face,” Goodman said. “If they use the same aggressive mannerisms that they do out on the Strip, we’re certainly not going to tolerate that.”
Glitter Gulch, a leading adult entertainment Fremont Street business, is just a stone’s throw away from anyone walking down those same streets.
The American Civil Liberties Union was quick to challenge the city ordinances on free speech grounds, arguing that bans on passing out literature and advertising or on setting up tables to promote a cause were unconstitutional.
The case has been winding its slow way through appeals, revised ordinace and more litigations since 1997.
In enacting such ordinances, Las Vegas city leaders contend that businesses that rent space or kiosks from Fremont Street Experience LLC, which operates the pedestrian mall, needs some protection again people setting up competing sales operations next door for free.
It used to be that the Super Bowl was the zenith of all sporting events for Las Vegas sportsbooks. However this winter’s celebration of the professional athlete is finding a fierce challenger in the March playoff celebration of collegiate basketball.
Over the last 20 years there has been a steady increase in the number of visitors booking rooms in Las Vegas during March Madness. In 2008, February basketball betting was $116.7 million compared to $238.9 million in March, more than doubling the money wagered in Nevada casinos.
Will this trend continue this year? Can March Madness help boost the Vegas economy yet one more time?
The answer for right now seems to be – yes and a guarded yes. Major Las Vegas sports books at Caesars, Mirage and the Hilton reported late last week that more men than last year showed up for the start of March Madness, while taking the time to lounge in comfy chairs, and more importantly for the Las Vegas economy, drink and eat.
Though this year’s Las Vegas sports books are taking in a greater number of bets, both men and women are betting fewer dollars per wager- so far.
“I’m pleasantly surprised in light of the economy,” said a beaming Jim Pedulla, director of Caesars’ race and sports book. He arrived to work last Thursday and had to immediately find an extra 160 seats for the more than 1,000 people who packed his book by 5:30 a.m.
While great hotel and restaurant deals in Las Vegas are abundantly available both on and off the Strip, all the Las Vegas hotel sports books are definitely bustling with the brisk post-St. Patrick Day-pre-Spring Break-currently-celebrating March Madness crowds.
Will this bristling activity be eventually translated into happy – not maddening – Las Vegas revenues?
All is not gloom and doom when it comes to Las Vegas art funding in our recession. The Smith Center for the Performing Arts could break ground in as little as two months, thanks to the City of Las Vegas for being in the midst of finalizing a financing package that supports the construction and takes into account the impact of the economic downturn.
The total $485 million center is being financed by many seed revenue sources including $105 million in Las Vegas bonds that are being backed by a 2 percent tax on rental cars, which are planned to be sold by the end of this month; $85 million in bonds backed by revenues from the Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency (not operating funds); and $150 million or more from the private Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.
The City of Las Vegas total financial obligation for the center funding is $170 million.
The Smith Center for the Performing Arts will be the anchor tenant of the 61-acre Union Park development in downtown Las Vegas that is touted to be the “new Las Vegas,” with the center containing a 2,050-seat main theater as well as smaller performance spaces and classrooms, a park and outdoor theater. It will be the home of the Las Vegas Philharmonic and the Nevada Ballet.
Construction costs make up $245 million of the total $485 million estimated cost, with the rest of the funding pegged for an operation endowment and furniture, fixtures and equipment.
Construction is expected to generate 1,000 Las Vegas jobs over two years.
“We are stimulating the economy,” said Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. “We’re stimulating our intellect in the community.”
Sheldon Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sand Corporation, and arguably one of the world’s richest, albeit controversial, people recently commented in Newsweek on the possibility of Las Vegas reinventing itself amid the intense current economic pressures:
“Las Vegas is a city of entertainment, and that’s what it is. Everyone wants to diversify. Clinics are coming to Las Vegas, and a lot of people want to change it into a medical-research city. God bless them, I hope it happens. But when we have a generic synonymity with entertainment, how can we say we’re an academic breeding ground for scientists? Not in my lifetime, and not in my children’s lifetime.”
The post-mortem is in for what’s commonly referred to as “The Show,” and what’s officially known as the annual Nightclub & Bar Convention & Trade Show, part of the International Hospitality Week, that was held last week for four days, March 1 though 4, in Las Vegas.
But The Show was definitely not dead – and nobody was spotted reading any last rites- especially great news in our sour, but always sweet Las Vegas economy. Thousands of bar and nightclub conventioneers, though, literally hoisted-elbow-to-elbow, packing the Las Vegas Convention Center to check out the large array of new bar products and equipment from around the country and, of course, taste scrumptious food samples and imbibe on out-of-this-world libations.
The good news is that Las Vegas represented the largest-volume of independent nightclubs, bars, and lounges in the United States for 2008. Bad economy or not, Las Vegas proved once again that successful bar and nightclub operations is an art and science revenue reality: Las Vegas is the home of 21 of the top 100 nightclubs and bars in the nation, drawing in a combined revenue from $360 million to $570 million in 2008. Further adding to the prestigious ranking, Las Vegas was home to 6 of the top 10 venues.
“Clearly, Las Vegas maintains its dominance as a nightclub destination,” says David Henkes, vice president of Technomic and leader of the firm’s adult beverage practice.
Such are the findings of the primary and secondary research study undertaken by Nightclub & Bar magazine and Chicago-based market research firm Technomic, Inc., who partnered together to develop the first revenue-based listing of top-producing independent nightclubs, bars and lounges in the nation.
The survey used to develop the Top 100 list showed that 60 percent of respondents experienced increases in total revenues in 2008; only 11 percent experienced sales decline and 29 percent reported no change from 2007.
On average, alcohol accounted for 71 percent of total revenues, with cocktails generating the lion’s share of drink sales – 52 percent – and beer and spirits contributing 38 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Food sales accounted for an average of seven percent of venue sales.
Henkes projects that nightclubs, bars and lounges will fare better than their casual dining colleagues in the face of the continued downward economic spiral. However, he cautioned that as unemployment rises and the recession continues to impact more and more consumers, the young adult demographic that favors these independent nightclubs, bars and lounges will likely curb their discretionary spending.
“To succeed in 2009, operators will need a clear value proposition: understand why people come to your venue and deliver an experience they can’t get elsewhere,” Henkes affirms. “In the best of times, it’s difficult to keep a hot club hot – many of these Top 100 clubs have done so continuously for years – but all bar operators will need to work smart to keep going and growing. Each individual concept needs to continuously reinvent itself to stay fresh for today’s customer, who is becoming more discerning in where they spend their entertainment dollars.”
To wet your whistle, here’s the ranking of Las Vegas venues from the nation’s Top 100 revenue 2008 listing : Tao Nightclub (1) – pictured in inset, Tryst (2), Pure (4), Jet (5), The Bank Nightclub (7), LAX (8), Body English (11), Moon Nightclub (12), ghostbar (13), Prive (17), Playboy Club (21), Drais After Hours (22), Christina Audigier (27), rumjungle (28), Studio 54 (29), Blush (31), Rain in the Desert (35), Stoney’s Rockin Country Bar (38), Krave Nightclub (44), Tabu Ultra Lounge (60), and Poetry Nightclub (79).
Bottom’s up- here’s hoping for a good bar and nightclub 2009 performance.
Station Casinos’ board of directors yesterday rejected Boyd Gaming Corporation’s unsolicited $950 million offer for a majority of Station’s property assets.
Station Casinos, owner of 13 casino properties, cited their reasons of rejection were because of the “highly conditional nature” of Boyd Gaming’s offer, as well as the risks “in sharing sensitive and confidential information with a significant competitor.”
Station’s rejection came on the same day they announced they had reached agreements with most of its debt holders to extend a deadline to vote on their bankruptcy proposal. The agreement gives Station Casinos and their debt holders until April 10 to vote on the proposed debt swap and restructuring.
What a difference a short time can make in a volatile economy. Months ago the MGM Mirage had billions of dollars of cash at its disposal, supposedly well insulated for the recession. Now they are painting a continuing bleak and gloomy picture. The MGM Mirage tapped last week their remaining $842 million in cash under their $4.5 billion revolving credit line because of the turbulent credit market markets and the “uncertain state of the global economy.”
On Monday the MGM Mirage stock plummeted to an all-time low of about $3 per share, down about 95 percent from a year ago.
Despite agreeing to sell the Treasure Island to former New Frontier owner Phil Ruffin for $775 million in December, the MGM Mirage, the Strip’s biggest casino operator, leading entertainment provider, and Nevada’s largest private employer could be facing a bankruptcy Chapter 11 filing if it can’t renegotiate better payment terms with its lenders covering some $7 billion in their outstanding loans. The MGM Mirage has a little more $1 billion in cash remaining on their balance sheet.
And if MGM Mirage lenders are not flexible in payment restructuring, also at risk is their new $9.1 billion CityCenter project that has a final $1.2 billion payment owed. The project has been planned to open in October, with the 4,004-room Aria, the centerpiece hotel-casino, scheduled to open in December.
Like most other Las Vegas casino operators, MGM Mirage has undertaken numerous cost-cutting and debt restructuring measures over the past year. But, so far, none have brought them the much needed financial relief. Talks on a variety of other debt restructuring schemes continue including selling some of their 10 Strip hotel-casinos, other properties, or, failing that, sell part of their CityCenter project and perhaps negotiate with Dubai World, already a 50 percent owner in the project that has invested almost $6 billion, for Dubai assuming a greater ownership stake.
M-irage, M-andalay Bay, and M-GM Grand…
And now – drum roll, please – a brand new Las Vegas “M”: At 10 p.m. on Sunday, M-arch 1, the M-arnell family rolled their economic dice, threw caution to the wind, as their 1,800 happily employed employees officially opened their new doors to 4,000 eager guests. Opening fanfare included a fireworks and water and fire show to highlight their $1 billion M Resort and Casino grand opening. Actually, it’s not even located in Las Vegas but on South Las Vegas Boulevard in Henderson, Nevada about 9 miles south of the Welcome to Las Vegas sign on the Strip. The latest star to the Vegas resort landscape is being promoted as the best sta-cation destination for Las Vegas Valley locals and visitors that want to get off the well-traveled Las Vegas casino corridor.
The first feature visitors to The M Resort casino floor will notice is the natural lighting. That’s right – there are skylights on the casino floor that shine the Las Vegas sun down on the 92,000 square feet of video poker, slot machines and gaming tables including the M Resort’s own Jewelry Box Slots.
Each of the 390 guest rooms offer floor-to-ceiling windows with incredible Strip and desert views. And unlike most Strip hotels, the M Resort offers free resort wide wi-fi, in-room iPod docking stations and nightly turn-down service.
Their 100,000-square-foot pool is incredible, providing a feeling of being in a canyon.
Guests may also indulge in the luxuriating Organic Oasis Wrap at Spa Mio, dine at Marinelli’s Italian restaurant (one of nine restaurants) and enjoy a concert at the Villaggio Del Sole or in the Ravello lounge. From the Hostile Grape wine cellar to the Babycakes Artisan Bakery to the 60,000 square feet of meeeting space – the M Resort is sure to have a taste that will entice you to stay.
The M Resort come late fourth quarter 2009 will be joined in Las Vegas by the new $2.9 billion planned Fountainebleau resort and the $8.6 billion CityCenter project.
London’s Daily Mail is speculating that the Steve and Elaine Wynn’s split could become the most expensive divorce settlement in entertainment history.
The “other woman” in the Steve Wynn tryst now has been identified as British socialite Andrea Danenza Hissom, a 40-something mother of two teenage sons, who was married to London-based investment broker Robert Davis Hissom, according to The New York Post’s Page Six column.
Hissom’s father is financier Victor Danenza who fled to France in 1976 from New York after the FBI investigated his connection with fraudulent stock market deals.
Wynn and Hissom have reportedly been rendezvousing on Wynn’s yacht on the Carribean island of St. Bart’s.