Las Vegas has always had a mixed relationship with its history. The city likes to evoke its classic past, but casino operators generally recognize that while people want pictures with nostalgic nods to the past like the classic Las Vegas sign, they generally don't want to stay in outdated "classic" hotel casinos.
The city, of course, has its share of aging properties that reflect the Vegas of old, but, for the most part, most of Las Vegas follows a newer-is-better mantra. Sure, new properties like Circa, which sits on Fremont Street downtown, have lots of touches that remind people of classic Vegas, but the actual hotel casino has all the modern touches.
The top properties owned by MGM Resorts International MGM and Caesars Entertainment (CZR) get constantly updated and even lower-end properties under those banners get refreshed fairly often. That's what's happening at Caesar Bally's which will be rebranded and remodeled taking on the company's Horsehoe brand.
That move, which followed the recent news that MGM had sold The Mirage to Hard Rock International so it could be demolished and turned into a guitar hotel. Now, it's more clear why Caesars will drop the Bally’s name.
The actual Bally's Corp. (BALY) has plans to put that name on another Las Vegas Strip property and it's probably not just changing some signage. Instead, the casino operator, which has not had a presence in Las Vegas plans to make major renovations on or fully demolish another classic casino with roots in Vegas' seedier past.
Ballys Has Big Plans for The Tropicana
Bally's bought the non-land assets of the Tropicana from Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. (GLPI) back in April 2021. The hotel, which sits on the Las Vegas Strip, sold for $150 million and Bally has agreed to lease the land underlying the casino from GLPI for $10.5 million per year, subject to increases over time.
When that deal went down, Ballys was vague about its plans for the classic, but aged, casino.
"Landing a preeminent spot on the Las Vegas Strip is a key step for us. The Strip is visited by over 40 million players and guests per year, which we believe will significantly enhance Bally's customer base and player database, as well as unlock marketing opportunities to leverage the iconic Bally's brand," said Bally's CEO George Papanier in a news release.
Now, new details have come out as to what Bally's expects to do with Tropicana.
"Casino operator Bally’s Corp., which is buying the Strip resort, would 'almost certainly' look to rename the property Bally’s and likely look to redevelop the hotel-casino, Chairman Soohyung Kim told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Jan. 26. "He said management has not determined what it will do with the property but would consider anything from renovating the 1,470-room resort to 'knocking it down and starting over.'"
Kim called knocking down the property and building something entirely new a possible way to “maximize value.”
Goodbye Mirage and Maybe See You Later Tropicana
Mirage became expendable to MGM when the company acquired the Cosmopolitan hotel. Hard Rock decided to knock down the property, which was built in 1989. That's relatively new by Las Vegas Strip standards, but Hard Rock wants to turn the Strip property into a variation of its Florida Guitar Hotel, which also carries the Hard Rock Name (which is used by several unaffiliated companies.
Tropicana was built in 1957 but has been renovated a number of times as it has passed through a variety of owners through the years. The hotel and casino sits on a 35-acre parcel on the corner of Tropicana Boulevard and Las Vegas Boulevard. "It includes 1,470 guest rooms, 50,000 square feet of casino space with 1,000 gaming positions, a 1,200 seat performance theater, and 100,000 square feet of convention and meeting space," according to Bally's.
Bally's already has a casino license in Nevada that it acquired from when it purchased the assets of the MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa.