Thursday, March 8, 2001 | 11:19 a.m.
It's been a piece of the Las Vegas Strip since 1973, when the original MGM Grand first opened just south of Flamingo Road.
It stood watch over the resort through the tragedy of the 1980 MGM Grand fire, and through numerous new owners and different names.
Today, the Strip sign bears the name Bally's. But like so many pieces of Strip history in recent years, the sign will disappear forever in July, replaced by yet another attempt by a Strip property to one-up its neighbors.
Bally's Las Vegas owner Park Place Entertainment Corp. is spending $10 million on the new sign, which will tower 150 feet over the intersection of Flamingo and the Strip when complete. It's the final piece of Park Place's renovation of the 27-year-old hotel-casino, started last year.
"(The sign) is based upon the importance of the 'Four Corners,"' said Andy Maiden, spokesman for Bally's. "Las Vegas' main artery is right there. We wanted to get the best value out of it. It's really going to change the face of the Las Vegas Strip."
Four of Park Place's five Las Vegas properties -- Bally's, Paris Las Vegas, Caesars Palace and Flamingo Las Vegas -- are near the Flamingo intersection.
The Bally's sign, built by Young Electric Sign Co., is shaped much like many modern Strip properties -- three-sided, with two high-definition video screens meeting at an angle on each side. This design means a screen will be visible to onlookers from every angle. Each side will be 68 feet wide.
The sign's main focus will be to promote Bally's, but Park Place will probably also promote its other Strip properties on the sign. It may also end up becoming a revenue generator, Maiden said.
"We haven't gone extensively into what they (Park Place) want to do, but they have discussed the concept of selling air time on that marquee," Maiden said. "That would help pay for that sign."
Another advantage of replacing the old Bally's sign, Maiden said, is that the old sign blocks the view of Paris Las Vegas from the north.
The new sign will be the most visible piece of the Bally's renovation efforts. Park Place is renovating and modernizing all of the hotel's 2,814 rooms, the casino floor, the property's convention space and several restaurants. The Las Vegas gaming giant is also completing a $60 million renovation of nearby Caesars Palace, and is considering adding an 864-room hotel tower there.