Wednesday, May 7, 2014 | 3:48 p.m.
The ice-in-the-sky concept to turn the pool deck at the Plaza into a hockey facility for the Las Vegas Wranglers has proven too costly to complete.
The Plaza announced in a news release today that the Wranglers will not move their home games to the downtown hotel-casino. It cited the team’s concerns that the project had exceeded original cost estimates.
Team owner Gary Jacobs informed Jonathan Jossel, managing director of Plaza hotel parent company Tamares Group, in an email this morning that the team was moving on.
“The pool deck wasn’t going to be feasible in a time frame for us to play at the Plaza,” Wranglers President Billy Johnson said in a phone interview just after the release was issued via email.
“We do have another (plan) that we’ve dual-tracked in case things didn’t work out as smoothly as we’d liked with the Plaza,” he said.
Dual-tracked in this context means the team was simultaneously working out a plan for another venue.
Johnson declined to say where that facility would be located, but he did say ECHL officials have been kept informed during the team’s attempt to develop the site at the Plaza.
The original plan was for the team to play in a steel-reinforced, fabric-covered tent that would seat 3,500 to 4,000 fans on the hotel’s fifth floor between its two towers at 1 Main St.
When asked if the team would play its games in Las Vegas for the 2014-2015 season, Johnson said, “That is the point of dual-tracking, and that is our intent.”
The challenge facing the team now is a return to the mad-dash climate of late December through January, when the team was essentially given about six weeks to develop a deal to remain in Las Vegas after Boyd Gaming officials informed Jacobs that they would not renew a lease to play at Orleans Arena. That reality became public the afternoon of New Year’s Eve.
That led to a scramble to find a new facility, with such suitors as MGM Resorts, World Market Center and Silverton Casino Lodge emerging as possible partners with the team. The deal with the Plaza was announced Feb. 14.
Johnson said the league wants a commitment from another venue operator “yesterday” but would hammer out a deal “quietly and appropriately.”
Johnson said the team could have something lined up this month, but he had no time frame for a public announcement. The team’s home season begins in November.
In its statement, Plaza spokeswoman Michele Voelkening of Purdue Marion & Associates said, “Everyone at the Plaza Hotel was excited about the prospect of being the new home of the Las Vegas Wranglers. We believed it was a great fit for our property, for downtown and for the fans. ... The Plaza remains committed to the downtown community and will continue to seek new ventures that will be a benefit to all.”
Unlike the hasty and acrimonious events that led to the team’s ouster from the Orleans, the end of this brief relationship is not so contentious.
“Jonathan Jossel and the Plaza had an amazing vision, and we wanted to see that through,” Johnson said. “We went very, very long to see it happen, and their boldness was just off the charts. ... But sometimes you just have to look at feasibility and understand when something just can’t work.”
The Plaza, renovated in 2011, has a lobby that features marble and inlaid mosaic tiles, chandeliers and a plush front desk that matches the classic Las Vegas feel with a contemporary look.
The hotel has 1,003 rooms and suites that showcase views of the Las Vegas Strip and downtown Las Vegas. Amenities include world-class entertainment, a casino floor that offers an array of classic gaming choice, which include 600 slot machines, a 400-seat bingo room, 18 table games and 57,120 square feet of casino space.
Among the dining options is Oscar's Beef * Booze * Broads, a steakhouse opened by former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman, which is located in the glittery dome enclosure above the hotel's main entrance.
The Plaza sits at the west end of the Fremont Street Experience on the site of the first train depot and auction site in Las Vegas, dating back to the San Pedro-Los Angeles-Salt Lake Railroad in 1905. The railroad was sold to Union Pacific in 1921 and the depot was demolished in 1970 to make way for the Union Plaza Hotel, built in 1971.
The hotel has been featured or is visible in several movies, including the 1971 James Bond film, "Diamonds are Forever;" the 1989 film "Back to the Future Part II;" the 1995 move "Casino," and the 2000 movie "Pay it Forward."