Thursday, July 2, 2009 | 3:52 p.m.
Tropicana Las Vegas has come out on the other side of its bankruptcy woes with a new leader and the bulk of its financial burden gone.
The Toronto-based Onex Corporation and former MGM Mirage President Alex Yemenidjian acquired a majority stake in the Las Vegas property when it emerged from bankruptcy Wednesday.
The new owners took over the property right after midnight this morning from the Tropicana’s former parent company, the Las Vegas-based Tropicana Entertainment LLC, and have promised to return the Tropicana to its “glory.”
The once debt-ridden Tropicana emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy with no debt, more than $10 million in cash and $75 million in commitments from its new owners and other equity holders to give the property some long-awaited upgrades.
Renovations are expected to begin at the Tropicana later this year, the company said, including a revamped casino floor, hotel rooms, pool and spa facilities, new dining options and even a nightclub. Tropicana’s facelift is expected to be complete in 2010.
Today’s change-over marks the end of the year-long period Tropicana Las Vegas spent in bankruptcy limbo.
Tropicana Entertainment filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May 2008 after it defaulted on nearly $2.7 billion in bonds. The company lost its biggest asset when the New Jersey Casino Control Commission voted in December 2007 not to renew the Tropicana’s casino license. Tropicana Entertainment said without the New Jersey property, it couldn’t afford to pay its debt.
Yemenidjian’s named appeared on the table in March when creditors of Tropicana Entertainment wanted the Las Vegas hotel-casino split from the company. The reorganization plan stated that a new company controlled by lenders would run the Tropicana with Yemenidjian as the hotel-casino’s new CEO.
The former MGM Mirage president received approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission to run the Tropicana last month.
Yemenidjian said at the June gaming commission hearing that he knows he faces a challenge, but that there is “nothing more rewarding than while people say something can’t be done to be interrupted by people who are doing it.”
Sun reporter Rick Velotta contributed to this report.
Tropicana Las Vegas sits on the south-east corner of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, an intersection which has the most adjacent hotel rooms in the world, also making it one of the most busy. The hotel has 1,658 rooms, three restaurants, a 62,011-square foot casino and a spa.