Las Vegas seemingly (and probably literally) has more major construction projects than any city in the world. At the moment, Fontainebleau Las Vegas, a project that has been on a nearly 20-year odyssey, continues its slow journey to a late-2023 opening. In addition, Caesars Entertainment (CZR) - Get Caesars Entertainment Inc. Report has decided to rebrand it's Bally's Casino into its Horseshoe brand, a move that was prompted by Bally's Corporation (BALY) - Get Bally's Corporation Report wanting to use that name on a revamped Tropicana.
Those moves are all happening at the same time two different NBA-ready arena projects are underway in the city while a deal for a Les Vegas Strip stadium for the Oakland Athletics seems inevitable.
If that wasn't enough major construction (and Las Vegas has numerous smaller, but still large projects underway), the city also has the pending rebrand of the Mirage into a Hard Rock. That will likely involve the demolition of the famed Mirage Volcano (despite efforts to derail that project).
It's a breathtaking amount of construction even for a city as vibrant and ever-changing as Las Vegas. Now, a new project has emerged that may not be as flashy, but may actually be more important to every casino operator on the Strip including Caesars, MGM Resorts International (MGM) - Get MGM Resorts International Report, Wynn Resorts (WYNN) - Get Wynn Resorts Limited Report, and the other big players.
Conventions Come Back to Las Vegas
The pandemic put group events and conventions on hold. Even as covid's impact has faded, the return to normal has been slow in that area. This year's, Consumer Electronics Show (CES) had an in-person exhibition after being virtual in 2020, but only about 25% of its normal attendance.
Since CES in early January, conventions have slowly worked there way back to normal, according to MGM CEO Bill Hornbuckle's comments during his company's first-quarter earnings call.
"We continue to expect our convention room nights to reach 90% of 2019 levels in the back half of 2022. Importantly, we are seeing increased spend levels for our groups year to date, including catering and banquets, and to spotlight, our international leisure trends were beginning to see positive indicators of the return of international flight capacity," he shared.
And while all the major casino operators have convention centers, the biggest shows -- the ones that drive up room rates and fill the city -- take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). That historic venue is about to get a major makeover.
A Las Vegas Institution Getting a Makeover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) board of directors approved its 2022-2023 budget on May 23, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. That budget includes funds for the previously-announced nearly $600 million renovation of the LVCC.
LVCVA Chief Financial Officer Ed Finger said the budget represents “a return to normal-sized financial activity for the LVCVA.” It includes funds to pay for part of the renovations to the convention center's North and South halls.
"The LVCVA has scheduled construction around major conventions so that they won’t have to go elsewhere during the building process. A major part of the renovation will be construction of a climate-controlled corridor linking the North, Central and South halls," according to the paper.
Renovating the LVCC will keep the venue up to the standards required to host conventions that attract over 100,000 -- sometimes up to 200,000 -- people to Sin City, This move may not be as flashy as casinos changing names and new mega-resorts rising from the dirt, but keeping the LVCC modern helps fuel growth for the entire city.