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A Las Vegas Strip Icon (and an Iconic Casino) Near Their Final Days

Sin City is about to literally see its skyline change as two icons fall and a potential new one arises.

Every Las Vegas icon someday falls.

Sometimes a classic casino or attraction meets a spectacular end -- with an implosion as a sort of a grand send-off. In other cases, a property falls into disrepair only to be quietly shuttered until a new owner comes around.

The Las Vegas Strip has seen legendary names go away and new ones arise from their ashes. Time, however, seems to come for everyone and everything. It was, for example, hard to think of Sin City without Siegfried & Roy, but tragedy brought that act to an end just like time claimed Frank Sinatra, the Rat Pack, and like it will eventually come for Carrot Top, David Copperfield, Wayne Newton, and other Las Vegas legends.

Casino names have also endured for decades only to disappear. The Dunes, The Sands, Aladdin, Bourbon Street, Boardwalk, Stardust (the casino that inspired the movie "Casino,") New Frontier, and a few others have all been removed for Las Vegas.

Brands that seemed like they would stand forever have quietly been removed, sometimes to rise again. That’s what’s happening at The Mirage, a resort/casino owned by MGM Resorts International  (MGM) - Get MGM Resorts International Report that’s in the process of being sold to Hard Rock International (one of a variety of companies that operate under the Hard Rock name).

This Hard Rock operates the famed Guitar Hotel at its Fort Lauderdale, Florida property. That company wants to bring that iconic hotel to the Las Vegas Strip and, in doing so, it’s going to remove the legendary Mirage Volcano.

The demise of the Volcano has been known since news leaked last year of Mirage being sold. No end date had appeared imminent, however, since selling a casino takes months (or longer). Now, the deal looks to be closed soon and that could bring about both the end of the Volcano and the end of the Mirage name on the Last Vegas Strip.

The End Nears for Mirage, the Volcano

MGM recently completed its purchase of The Cosmopolitan, a Strip hotel it sort of swapped in its portfolio for Mirage. It, of course, wasn’t a literal swap, but MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle talked about how Cosmopolitan works as part of MGM’s overall Las Vegas Strip Strategy during his company’s first-quarter earnings call.

“The Cosmopolitan is an iconic brand with a loyal and complementary customer base that will further enhance our Las Vegas Strip portfolio,” he said.

In the same call, he also talked about the Mirage sale.

“We've also made progress on the sale of the operations of the Mirage to Hard Rock International, which we announced last year. We are working closely with regulators to ensure a smooth transition and expect this transaction to close in the second half of this year,” he said.

The second half of the year officially starts in July and that gives a window into when Mirage may change hands.

Hard Rock Has Not Set an End Date for Mirage Volcano

While Hard Rock International has not said a lot about its plans for Mirage, it has said it will build a Guitar Hotel on the property. Given how long it takes to build something that massive, it’s very likely that the Volcano will be closed somewhat quickly after the transaction on the property is completed.

It’s possible that the new owner would look to profit from a sort of farewell tour, but that’s not certain as the company would be drawing customers to a casino it intends to rebrand under a new name.

"When complete, Hard Rock Las Vegas will be a fully integrated resort welcoming meetings, groups, tourists, and casino guests from around the world to its nearly 80-acre center-Strip location," said Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen.

Mirage opened in 1989 and was acquired by MGM Resorts in 2000. The Volcano was a first-of-its kind attraction that paved the way for other massive free Las Vegas Strip attractions including the Fountains at Bellagio.

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MGM will retain the Mirage name, but license it for free to Hard Rock for a three-year period.

An online petition to save the Volcano only has 6,800 signatures, making it unlikely to have any impact.

“Frankly, it should be a historical landmark -- hopefully we can elevate the cause to such a high level!,” the petition reads. “The volcano is among the “most unique forms of art and entertainment.”