Friday, April 26, 1996 | 11:59 a.m.
BY any measure, it measures up.
Rising 1,149 feet above the desert, the Stratosphere Tower captures attention from every spot in the Las Vegas Valley. It's also expected to capture a tidy profit for Stratosphere Corp. from visitors eager to savor spectacular views.
Financial analysts say the tower's admission fee of $6.95 compares favorably with tower prices in other cities and should boost the company's bottom line.
Well, the tallest tower ever built was the Warszawa Radio mast at Konstantynow, Poland. Supported by guy wires, it stretched to 2,121 feet. But you can't buy a ticket to the top -- the tower collapsed during renovation work Aug. 10, 1991.
After the collapse, Poles referred to it as "world's longest tower."
Toronto's CN Tower, the world's tallest self-supporting structure, charges $12 for a trip to the top observation deck at the 1,465-foot level. The CN Tower's broadcast antenna tops out at 1,815 feet, but it's not the place to be in a thunderstorm -- lightning strikes it an average 200 times a year.
Widely acknowledged as the tallest building in the United States, Chicago's Sears Tower rises 1,454 feet, or 110 stories. Completed in 1974, the tower's observation deck sits at 1,353 feet. Each year 1.5 million visitors pay $6.50 each for a ride to the top, raising almost $10 million in revenue.
New York's twin World Trade Center towers aren't really twins. The North Tower, completed in 1972, rises 1,377 feet, or 110 stories, above Manhattan, while the South Tower is 15 feet shorter.
The 1.5 million visitors who pay $8 for a ride to the top of either tower generate $12 million in annual revenue.
The original King Kong climbed 1,250 feet to get to the top of New York's Empire State Building after its completion in 1931. Today, you'd be one of 3 million yearly visitors charged $4 apiece for an elevator ride to the observation deck, which lies well below the 1,454-foot height the building now boasts in an effort to counter the Sears Tower's claim.
The rest of this country's tallest towers are shorter than Stratosphere. They include the 1,136-foot Amoco Building and 1,127-foot John Hancock Center in Chicago, New York's 1,046-foot Chrysler Building, the 1,012-foot Library Square Tower in Los Angeles, and Houston's Texas Commerce Plaza that tops out at 1,000 feet.
The Eiffel Tower reached 986 feet above the Parisian skyline when it was completed in 1889, but a TV antenna added much later added 66 feet to its height. About 5.5 million tourists pay $8 to $10 each every year for a trip to the observation deck.
Seattle's Space Needle, which rises 605 feet, charges $8 for a ride to the observation platform at the 520-foot level. It attracts 1.5 million visitors annually.
Stratosphere Tower -- with an outdoor observation deck at 872 feet and an indoor vantage point at 855 feet -- is projected to draw at least 5.5 million visitors in its first year. If all are charged $6.95, Stratosphere would realize more than $38 million in revenue -- excluding money from the tower's rides, restaurant, lounge and wedding chapels.
"We believe the tower, the thrill rides and related retail activities have extremely attractive operating returns approaching 50 percent," says Amy de Rham of Montgomery Securities.
"Our estimates for the total entertainment revenues of the tower are in line with other gaming companies that offer traditional entertainment options," says Thomas Ryan of Bankers Trust.
"Furthermore, tower admissions and rides are relatively low fixed-cost, high-margin sources of revenue, particularly when compared to high-production-value theater shows."
Ryan estimates Stratosphere's entertainment revenues will exceed $88 million in the first year of operation. William Schmitt, an analyst at Gerard, Klauer Mattison & Co., predicts 1997 entertainment revenue will total $103 million.
ote With an outdoor observation deck at 872 feet and an indoor vantage point at 855 feet, Stratosphere is projected to draw at least 5.5 million visitors in its first year.