Las Vegas is constantly re-inventing itself and always seems “over the top” but never before, observers say, has there been this type of frantic building to keep pace with demand. “This is the most outrageous, over-the-top expansion ever,” said long-time developer Steve Wynn.
Signs of growth abound along the Strip:
-Las Vegas has more new hotel rooms under construction (11,000) than any other city in the country, as well as more rooms on the drawing boards (35,000).
-The Venetian, which already ranks as the sixth-biggest hotel in the world and the fourth largest in Las Vegas, will assume the top spot once it opens a 3,200-suite tower, now under construction. The tower will bring its room count to more than 7,000.
-Echelon Place will have more than 5,000 rooms when it is built on the site of the old Stardust, which its owners demolished last month. The MGM currently ranks as the largest hotel in Las Vegas — and the world — with 5,000 rooms.
-Echelon Place, at $4.4 billion, would rank as the most expensive development in Las Vegas history — if not for the $7 billion the MGM Mirage is spending on CityCenter. That $7 billion price is far more than the previous record, set when Mr. Wynn and his financial backers spent $2.7 billion building the 2,700-room Wynn, which opened in 2005. MGM calls the CityCenter project the “most expensive privately financed project in American history.”
The mini-city bordering the Las Vegas Strip will feature six towering buildings that reach as high as 61 stories. Covering 67 acres, it will include a 4,000-room hotel, a sprawling convention center, a half million square feet of retail space and 2,700 condominium units.
“The building we’re seeing right now,” said Gary Loveman, chief executive of Harrah’s, which operates half a dozen casinos on the Las Vegas strip, “is by leaps and bounds bigger than anything we’ve ever seen.”
Vegas has a 95% weekend occupancy rate. Last year, even the weekday rate was near 90%, partly because of the city’s success in positioning itself as an attractive convention destination, says The New York Times. “Americans — and an increasing number of foreigners — can’t seem to get enough of Las Vegas,” said The Times.
Contrary to some predictions, The Times added, the opening of American Indian casinos and other gambling outposts in more than 30 states has not hurt Las Vegas.
Two factors behind the boom:
Smaller, more prosaic gambling halls across the country have given people a taste for gambling; they want more.
The soaring popularity of poker has also helped drive growth as the game has drawn a younger crowd to the city.