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Implosion makes way for new casino to replace O’Sheas, Imperial Palace

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Steve Marcus

Explosives go off inside the seven-level parking garage of O’Sheas Casino is imploded early in the morning Tuesday, May 1, 2012. The garage and casino, between the Imperial Palace and Flamingo Las Vegas casinos, are being demolished by Ceasars Entertainment to make way for the Linq project, a $500 million retail, dining and entertainment corridor. The project will include a 550-foot tall observation wheel, the world’s tallest, a representative said.

Updated Tuesday, May 1, 2012 | 2:47 a.m.

O'Sheas Parking Garage Implosion

The seven-level parking garage of O'Sheas Casino is imploded early in the morning Tuesday, May 1, 2012. The garage and casino, between the Imperial Palace and Flamingo Las Vegas casinos, are being demolished by Ceasars Entertainment to make way for the Linq project, a $500 million retail, dining and entertainment corridor. The project will include a 550-foot tall observation wheel, the world's tallest, a representative said. Launch slideshow »

O'Sheas garage implosion video

The rumble of an implosion early Tuesday provided the latest — and loudest — signal of progress in creation of the $500 million Linq entertainment district along the Las Vegas Strip.

Amid flashes of explosives and a huge plume of dust, the seven-story O'Sheas casino parking garage came down at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday to make way for Caesars Entertainment's Linq project, which will include a new casino resort and a 550-foot attraction similar to a Ferris wheel.

"It will be a whole new look for the Strip," said Rick Mazer, regional president for Caesars Entertainment before the implosion.

A name for the casino, which will replace the Imperial Palace, is still being decided in Caesars boardrooms. But Mazar said it wouldn't be themed, so it will fit around the design of a new facade that will stretch over a skeleton structure that used to be O'Sheas. O'Sheas closed at noon Monday after 23 years in operation.

The new casino will lead to the entrance of the Linq, a collection of retail, casual dining and entertainment scheduled to open in 2013.

"The bones of the O'Sheas building will stay, but the skin around it will be gone," Mazer said.

The old O'Sheas and much of the Imperial Palace will be engulfed into a new resort, which is expected to be named later this year.

Tuesday's implosion was the first on the Strip in more than a year, following the demolition of a wing of rooms at the Tropicana Las Vegas in November 2010. The last property to be entirely brought down was the New Frontier casino and hotel in November 2007.

The garage was demolished 14 1/2 hours after the closing of O'Sheas at noon Monday. Asking people to leave the casino for the last time proved emotional, said Brian Thomas, who portrayed O'Sheas host Lucky the Leprechaun.

"People were crying, both the guests and employees," Thomas said. "It was tough."

Beer pong tournaments at O'Sheas -- a popular draw -- have been moved to the Slush Bar at Bill's Gamblin' Hall. A spot that used to have banks of slot machines has been cleared out for the new beer pong area.

Thomas is staying with Caesars, hosting pool parties at the Flamingo and working at luring the O'Sheas crowd into Bill's.

Caesars officials say O'Sheas isn't gone forever. A new version offering a pub and table games, two hallmarks of the old casino, will beckon people at the entrance of the Linq.

"Everything will be new, which you couldn't say about O'Sheas," Mazer said.

O'Sheas and the new casino will blend together but be distinctive, much like Margaritaville leads into the Flamingo down the street.

"It will be that casino-within-a-casino concept, which we've brought to Las Vegas," Mazer said.

Note: This story has been revised to note that the Tropicana implosion was the last along the Strip.

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