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Las Vegas' famed Tropicana resort will close this week to make way for a new ballpark

People walk outside of the Tropicana hotel-casino March 28 in Las Vegas. The property closed on Tuesday.
John Locher
/
AP
People walk outside of the Tropicana hotel-casino March 28 in Las Vegas. The property closed on Tuesday.

When the Tropicana opened on Las Vegas Boulevard in 1957, it was the most expensive resort that had ever been built in the city.

Glamorous and ritzy, the Tropicana was then Las Vegas' crème de la crème, advertised as the "Tiffany of the Strip." For decades, the resort hosted the city's longest-running show, the Folies Bergère cabaret, with its iconic feathered showgirls. There were rumors of mob connections. Among its most famous guests was James Bond; the film Diamonds Are Forever was set in part at the resort.

On Tuesday, the Tropicana's storied run will come to an end when it closes its doors for good.

The resort, now one of only two on the Strip that still date back to the 1950s, is set to be demolished later this year to make way for a new Major League Baseball stadium that is expected to host the Oakland A's starting in 2028.

In its heyday, the Tropicana "was considered incredibly luxurious," said Michael Green, an author and professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who specializes in the history of the city. The magicians Siegfried and Roy made their Las Vegas debut there, and the resort's Blue Room venue was the stage for many of jazz's greatest musicians during the 1960s.

But in the decades since, the Tropicana had fallen out of fashion. It changed ownership repeatedly, finally selling in 2022 for just $308 million as its most profitable competitors, like the Wynn and the Bellagio, regularly generate more than a billion dollars each year in revenue.

"One of the things we've had to reconcile with ourselves still is that people do not come to the Strip looking for that past. They come here looking for all the bells and whistles that tourists look for these days," said Green, whose books include Las Vegas: A Centennial History.

The Tropicana will close its doors on Tuesday after a 67-year run on the Las Vegas Strip. Its demolition is set for October; afterward, it will be the site of a new ballpark for the Major League Baseball team the A's.
Ethan Miller / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
The Tropicana will close its doors on Tuesday after a 67-year run on the Las Vegas Strip. Its demolition is set for October; afterward, it will be the site of a new ballpark for the Major League Baseball team the A's.

The Tropicana's gaming floor will close at 3 a.m., and the last hotel guests staying in the resort's nearly 1,500 rooms must check out by Tuesday midday. "Preparations to demolish Tropicana Las Vegas will begin shortly after," says the website for the resort, which is owned by the gaming and media conglomerate Bally's Corp.

Over the past few decades, the Tropicana had changed hands repeatedly, landing under the ownership of Bally's in 2022 for $308 million. An agreement was later announced to demolish the resort to make way for the future ballpark.

The demolition has been scheduled for October.

After their move was approved by MLB owners last November, the A's are set to move to Las Vegas in 2028. They will become the state's first major league team.

"It speaks to how Las Vegas has really just become a lot like anywhere else, truthfully," said Green. "When the Tropicana opened, this was the only state in the country where you could legally gamble in a casino. Today, almost every state has some form of gambling. Betting on sports is legal."

Final plans for the $1.5 billion, 33,000-seat baseball stadium have not yet been set. The A's unveiled renderings for a new ballpark on the Tropicana site earlier this month showing a multi-deck stadium enclosed by enormous white sails "inspired by traditional baseball pennants," a look that drew comparisons to the Sydney Opera House.

"The resultant architecture is like a spherical armadillo — shaped by the local climate — while opening and inviting the life of the Strip to enter and explore," said Bjarke Ingels, founder and creative director of BIG, the architecture firm behind the stadium design.

The 2024 season is set to be the A's swan song in Oakland. Where the team will play from next year through the move to Las Vegas is uncertain. Options on the table reportedly include Sacramento, Salt Lake City or — if the team's owners are able to strike a temporary deal with city officials — they could continue to play in Oakland in the meantime.

Reporting contributed by NPR's Ryan Benk. contributed to this story

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Becky Sullivan has reported and produced for NPR since 2011 with a focus on hard news and breaking stories. She has been on the ground to cover natural disasters, disease outbreaks, elections and protests, delivering stories to both broadcast and digital platforms.
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