Las Vegas Sun

May 26, 2024


Plaza to lay off 400 workers, temporarily close hotel


Justin M. Bowen / File photo

The Fremont Street Experience and Plaza Hotel in downtown Las Vegas are shown.

Updated Monday, Sept. 13, 2010 | 10:23 a.m.

RELATED STORY: With Plaza implosion out, Goodman seeking ‘gateway’ to Symphony Park

Map of Plaza Hotel and Casino

Plaza Hotel and Casino

1 Main Street, Las Vegas

More than 400 employees of the Plaza Hotel & Casino face layoffs in the next 60 days as the downtown Las Vegas property closes its 1,037-room hotel and portions of its casino in early November.

While the company says the hotel closure will be followed by planned renovations of all guestrooms and hallways, it appears the closure is also associated with the recession that has hurt the Las Vegas gaming industry -- with downtown taking an especially brutal hit.

The Plaza will be "minimizing operations'' on Nov. 11, property manager Bobby Ray Harris told employees in a memo last week.

"I have suggested and been convinced for many months that an on-going 'Band-Aid' approach will not significantly change the operating results and that only substantial improvements to the property can make it successful in the long run,'' the memo said. "The economy, coupled with the need for a significant capital infusion into the property, has affected the Plaza's ability to remain competitive in the industry.''

Harris, the president and chief operating officer of PlayLV, manager of the Plaza and its sister properties, is due to leave as manager of the properties next month, when Anthony F. Santo takes over.

Santo, who will also run the Plaza's sister downtown properties the Las Vegas Club Hotel & Casino and the Western Hotel & Casino, told Nevada gaming regulators last month the properties are losing money but negotiations were under way for a $20 million loan to refurbish the Plaza.

Santo also said last month there would be "12 months of hard times" while construction work is under way at the Plaza, to be renamed Union Plaza.

Downtown Las Vegas casino revenue fell in July for the 26th consecutive month, the state Gaming Control Board reported last week. It said the July year-over-year decline was 19.2 percent, to $32.1 million.

That compared to a statewide decline of 4.9 percent.

But the July 2010 and July 2009 numbers tell only part of the story. Downtown gaming win in July 2009 had already fallen 11.6 percent from $45 million in July 2008.

And the Plaza isn't the only downtown property to be suffering from the double whammy of the recession and growth in the Las Vegas hotel room inventory, including a new 500-room tower at the downtown Golden Nugget that opened in November.

Late last year, Binion's shut its 365-room downtown hotel, citing the economic downturn.

In a statement today confirming the planned layoffs, the Plaza's parent company hinted that economic realities are driving the plan to shut down the entire hotel as opposed to closing just individual floors for renovations.

"Tamares Real Estate will be investing a substantial amount of money into its Plaza Hotel & Casino, including renovating all 1,037 guestrooms and hallways, new restaurant and bar concepts and upgrading the casino floor. These improvements are expected to take up to 12 months to complete," Kenneth Landfield, chief operating officer of Plaza owner Tamares U.S. Real Estate, said in a statement today. "The Plaza has been experiencing the same kind of operational difficulties as other casino hotels and many other businesses in Las Vegas. Despite the most difficult economic conditions in recent memory, however, we are extremely excited about the future of downtown Las Vegas and are committed to working through this process to the benefit of our employees, our customers and the city of Las Vegas."

"In accordance with employment laws, our tenant, Plaza Hotel & Casino, LLC, has issued notices to more than 400 employees explaining that their employment could be terminated within 60 days," Landfield said. "This action is necessary for us to reorganize and renovate the Plaza over the next year, during which time we will be closing portions of the casino and all hotel rooms. We anticipate that some employees will be retained to continue various operations, including, among other things, slot machines in the casino, the Firefly restaurant, ‘The Rat Pack is Back’ show and the food court."

The Las Vegas Club Hotel & Casino and the Western Hotel & Casino aren't affected by the announcement.

"In fact, we anticipate that many employees from the Plaza will be offered jobs at the Las Vegas Club, which during this renovation period will be handling future room reservations, bingo and some other amenities formerly housed at the Plaza," Landfield said in the statement.

Tamares Real Estate is part of the Tamares Group, a privately owned international investment company.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy