Las Vegas Sun

January 16, 2018

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Columnist Tom Gorman: One man’s view of Las Vegas in 20 years

Tom Gorman's column runs Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at [email protected] or at (702) 259-2310.

You probably heard the news that Boyd Gaming wants to replace the venerable Stardust with a $4 billion complex featuring 5,300 hotel rooms, shops, restaurants and convention space, to be called Echelon Place. It's supposed to open in about five years.

I'm still trying to fathom the size and scope of CityCentre, MGM Mirage's $5 billion hotel-condo-casino-retail complex between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo. The venerable Boardwalk closes in a few days to allow for the start of construction.

You've heard of strip malls? We're building entire strip mini-cities. But the maids, cooks and clerks won't be able to afford to live in Las Vegas, and will probably have to be shuttled to work from Mesquite, Pioche, Baker or Kingman.

Plans for Echelon Place and Centre City only hint of the changes in store for the Strip over the next 10 or 20 years. This is how I think things will shake out:

The two urban villages will each incorporate as small cities, will stage their own competing New Year's Eve fireworks displays, and elect their own mayors. One will be the frontman for Five Buck Chuck, the other will speak for Alcoholics Anonymous.

Each mini-city will have its own big-name entertainment. One show, by the venerable Cirque du Soleil, will be called Ma. The other, by former Cirquemeister Franco Dragone (who is venerable too), will be called Pa. Each, with flying angels and storylines about Heaven, will be produced in showrooms that replicate clouds, but beyond that they'll claim to have nothing in common.

Venerable Station Casinos will have constructed two new casinos for locals. They'll be called Echelon Station and CityCentre Station, and will market to the gambling needs of each mini-city. Stations will have formed a strategic partnership with Smith's grocery stores, because of Smith's proven success in stoking the gambling addictions of locals who thought they only needed bread and milk.

The venerable Tropicana will still be standing tall and proud, with its flashing-blue waterfall, as the oldest hotel on the Strip. The venerable Wayne Newton -- his eyes rounder than ever -- will be its headliner, and he'll be whisked onto stage in one of those three-wheeled chair scooters, close enough to the ground that if he falls off, he won't hurt himself.

But the venerable Excalibur across the street will have closed by now. The ex-Excalibur will be renamed Kid Calibur and be the world's largest child day-care center, with the world's largest game arcade and world's largest arcade loyalty club for children. The data base will be managed by Harrah's, for future marketing and player-development purposes.

The venerable Steve Wynn will have sold his Wynn Las Vegas to Victor Drai, the late-night entertainment impresario, who will have turned the resort into the world's largest and noisiest nightclub, Din Las Vegas.

(The mountain out front will have been reduced to two-thirds its size, due to erosion from summer thunderstorms. The Le Reve Theater will have been turned into a water-based cocktail lounge famous for its wet T-shirt contests, and Avenue Q will be popular among nightclub patrons with so many neuroses they'll just want to sit alone and imagine themselves in the show.)

Wynn, meanwhile, will have bought land way down on Las Vegas Boulevard, near St. Rose Parkway, and pronounced it as the new hottest location on the Strip. He'll let his wife, Elaine, and her new best friend, Ivana Trump, join forces to build a new high-rise condo-casino complex called Ivana Wynn. (And don't we all?)

The venerable Venetian will have clung to the title of world's largest hotel because it would have grown to 25,220 rooms and eight towers, but Sheldon Adelson will now wonder if he should build something down by St. Rose Parkway.

Across the street, the battling pirates and the Sirens of TI will have long been replaced with a space-age laser-tag show as Treasure Island continues to search for its identity, and the Mirage volcano will have been shut off due to global warming.

The venerable Forum Shops at Caesars will have expanded to twice its size by building a second level with four more courts of talking gods. But Spago's various restaurants will have been collapsed into a single fast-food court for celebrities on the run.

Up the street, the venerable Bob Stupak will have repurchased the venerable Stratosphere and, timed with the third remake of King Kong, will ask the Las Vegas City Council for permission to build a sling-shot ride atop the Strat in which a gorilla grasps bungee-tied passengers in his gigantic paws and flings them over the side. (City safety officials will have required backup generators to protect against power outages.)

The now-venerable George Maloof will have won state legislation giving girls as young as 18 the right to drink and gamble in Laughlin, so he will have moved his resort operations there, along with a nightclub called Sandstorm. Meanwhile, he will have converted his old place into the Palm Retirement Home for aging NBA stars and MTV hotties. The Ghost Bar will really be a ghost bar and Rain will have been turned into a funeral viewing parlor.

Downtown, those 61 acres of city-owned property will finally be developed, if a little short of Oscar Goodman's vision. The sports arena will end up being a dodge ball pavilion and the performing arts center will stage mostly chorus-line productions for showgirls with legs all the way up to there. The lobby will feature a permanent collection of booze bottles.

But the venerable happiest mayor on Earth will have finally gotten his medical research facility: the Oscar Goodman Memorial Liver Research Center.