The Riv’s Quiet End – Vegas Seven

They blew up the last bits of the Riviera. I thought about it. I was sad. Then I thought about it some more. I was angry. Then I thought about it some more, and it made sense. I share some of that journey in my latest Green Felt Journal:

It’s a Vegas tradition, this sacrificing the past for a prospective future. Las Vegas is about today, not taxidermy. Even if the Riviera were still open today, it would be almost unrecognizable from the nine-story high-rise (the first in the state!) that Liberace opened back in 1955. Most of the Riviera’s physical plant dated from the 1970s or later. The iconic “No Ifs, Ands, or …” Crazy Girls sculpture dates from 1995.

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The point I wanted to make was that it’s easy to just say we want to roll back the clock to happy, simpler days, but we need to ask ourselves, “Happier for who? Simpler for who?” I can’t find any easy answers.


The Long, Hot Summer of ’55 | Vegas Seven


In this week’s Vegas Seven, I have a cover story on the frustrating summer of 1955–a year that has plenty to teach Las Vegas 2015:

Lanza’s no-show aside, opening night at the New Frontier was regarded as a success. One of the Strip’s first resorts had reinvented itself for the Atomic Age, bigger and better. It whet the appetite for what was to come.

Source: The Long, Hot Summer of ’55 | Vegas Seven

This was a story that I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. Thanks to Matt Jacob and Greg Miller I have.

First, it’s got the story behind the openings (and subsequent struggles) of the New Frontier, Royal Nevada, Riviera, Dunes, and Moulin Rouge. It also talks about lesser-known failures like the Desert Spa.

For today’s readers who are interested in more than “just history,” 1955 has clear parallels to the recession, and the pivot Las Vegas did in the years after 1955–chiefly, moving towards conventions and investing significantly in them–has lessons for today.

LVCVA’s Unconventional Approach to Global Business | Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I take a look at what the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is actually going to do with the Riviera site:

Construction on the Global Business District is expected to begin in the next couple of years and unfold over the next decade. If executed along the lines currently planned, it will profoundly shape both the Strip and the Valley. No, it won’t have the glamour of a high-profile casino opening, but it’s destined to have a tremendous—and lasting—impact on the city for decades.

via LVCVA’s Unconventional Approach to Global Business | Vegas Seven.

This is truly going to change both the Strip and the city in ways that I don’t think we fully appreciate right now. Read the column to learn why.

Riviera Going Out as It Came In: A Symbol of the Strip’s Future | Vegas Seven

In my latest Green Felt Journal, I take a look at the Riviera’s place in history:

If there were one property you could point to that has represented the evolution of our city’s casinos over the past 60 years, it would be the Riviera. So it’s only fitting that, in its final days, the hotel-casino is doing so again.

via Riviera Going Out as It Came In: A Symbol of the Strip’s Future | Vegas Seven.

I have a lot more than 700 words to say about the Riviera’s past and future, and I hope to be able to write more about them both soon.

Riviera’s Rebirth in Vegas Seven

My piece on the Riviera is out in Vegas Seven as of yesterday. Busy day, so I didn’t have time to post this. It’s this week’s Green Felt Journal:

As destroy/erase/improve gives way to rework/repaint/recycle, older Las Vegas hotels that a few years ago might have been imploded have gotten new leases on life. Over the past year, both the Tropicana and Plaza have been thoroughly revamped after each had been bandied about as a possible demolition candidate. Now it is the Riviera’s turn for a makeover, and the ultimate fate of the property could reveal much about the next decade or more of Strip development.

via Riviera Rebirth | Vegas Seven.

I think the Riviera is an interesting test case for what many properties are going to face in the next 10-20 years. I don’t see the need for implosions and new construction coming back anytime soon, so the question is, how do Strip casinos age gracefully? At the other end of the spectrum, the Bellagio’s facing the same dilemma.

As far as changes, I like some of what I see, and I don’t like other things. Bingo’s a great idea. Keeping prices low is a great idea. Changing the names of Kady’s and Kristofer’s–not such a good idea. At a time when everything strange and idiosyncratic about Las Vegas seems to be disappearing, I don’t know why they replaced those names with standouts like “Poolside Cafe” and “R(iviera) Steakhouse.” I can only hope they’re not placeholders before they bring in Bahama Breeze and Lone Star to run them.

I might do another blog post about the Riviera soon–I have a number of observations about the place that didn’t make it into the column, and I’d like to share them.

Riviera & North Strip’s plight in Two Way Hard Three

I’ve got a new piece up on Two Way Hard Three, about the Riviera’s recently-released annual report and what it says about the North Strip:

Riviera Holdings Corp, the company that owns the bankrupt Riviera casino hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, recently released its annual report. The company had a rough year, and a look at the financial reports from the last few years sheds some light on why the casino’s in such trouble, and why the Sahara is closing.

via Riviera financials show North Strip’s plight | Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog | from

The trend you’ll see in the chart I put together is certainly a disturbing one.