Friday, Feb. 25, 2000 | 12:08 p.m.
The World of Coca-Cola on the Las Vegas Strip said today it's closing March 5. The 2 1/2-year-old themed attraction celebrating the world's most successful brand name was a symbol of corporate America's acceptance of Las Vegas.
A spokesman for the Atlanta-based company said the closure, which will affect 56 Las Vegas employees, is a part of the corporate downsizing of the company announced last month.
Scott Jacobson said today the World of Coca-Cola's attached retail store, Everything Coca-Cola, would remain open. The store, which sells a variety of products emblazoned with Coke logos, occupies the first two floors of the attraction on the Las Vegas Strip near the MGM Grand hotel-casino.
The 28,000-square-foot top two floors of the operations serves, in essence, as an interactive advertisement for the company in a museum format. It features exhibits explaining the history of the company, an old-fashioned soda fountain, a mock-up of a bottling plant, theaters with storytellers sharing anecdotes about the company and shows a collection of Coke television commercials.
The favorite stop at the World of Coca-Cola is a lounge where visitors can sample Coke products from around the world and get a sample of soft drinks from everywhere from Paraguay to Thailand.
Admission to the attraction is $3.50. Jacobson would not disclose attendance numbers or other financial information about the facility.
The closure is the second in three months at the Showcase mall. The All-Star Cafe, an enterprise launched by professional athletes Andre Agassi, Ken Griffey Jr., Shaquille O'Neal, Wayne Gretzky, Tiger Woods and Monica Seles, closed in January.
Owned by the same company that owns the Planet Hollywood chain, the closing of the 36,000-square-foot outlet resulted in the loss of 120 staff positions.
The Showcase is an entertainment-oriented attraction featuring an eight-screen United Artists theater complex, a retail-entertainment attraction operated by M&M/Mars and Ethel M Chocolates and an elaborate video arcade operated by Dreamworks SKG called GameWorks.
Built in a vertical format, the $94 million, 192,000-square-foot Showcase is characterized by multifloor stores. The World of Coca-Cola, one of the most visible elements of the mall from the Strip with its 110-foot Coke-bottle elevator, occupied four floors.
Jacobson said the company has no new plans for the third and fourth floor of the building.
"We are happy that Coca-Cola remains committed to the Las Vegas market. The Everything Coca-Cola retail store will remain open on the first two levels as well as the 100-foot Coca-Cola contour bottle," Showcase co-owner Barry Fieldman said in a statement.
The company's employees will be given job-severance packages based on rank and seniority. Employees will be given assistance in job placement, but there are no plans to absorb employees into other divisions within the company.
Jacobson said the closure of the operation will not affect Coca-Cola's corporate contributions to the community.
When the facility opened July 7, 1997, local government leaders rolled out the red carpet for the company in a private reception.
Sergio Zyman, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Coca-Cola Co., said at the event that the anticipation for the opening was "like Christmas eve" for most of the corporate executives.
A Coke executive also spoke at that year's Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce Preview event at which the marriage of the Strip with Coke signaled that corporate America had finally accepted "Sin City." But Coke's fortunes began to fade at the turn of the millennium.
Last month, Coke revealed plans to eliminate about 6,000 jobs, or one-fifth of its work force, as part of a major restructuring effort.
The job cuts represented about 21 percent of the company's 29,000-person worldwide work force. The company estimated the cuts would save $300 million.
The layoffs were the largest in the company's 113-year history, and affected 2,500 positions in its Atlanta headquarters, 800 jobs elsewhere in the U.S., and 2,700 positions outside the United States.