By Claudia Aoraha, Senior Reporter For Dailymail.Com
14:24 30 Jan 2024, updated 15:22 30 Jan 2024
- The once-lavish Vegas hotel will shut on April 2 after 67 years in business
- A decadent history of midcentury glitz and glamor will vanish along with it
- The hotel opened as Cuban-themed property and was ‘famous from day one’
The iconic Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas will close its doors in a matter of weeks to make way for a new $1.5billion baseball stadium for the Oakland Athletics.
The once-lavish Vegas hotel will shut on April 2 after 67 years in business – and a decadent history of midcentury glitz and glamor will vanish along with it.
While parts of the 1,500-room hotel will be removed manually, the landscape will have to be completely leveled – meaning that the Tropicana will face implosion and be demolished.
Arik Knowles, Tropicana’s VP and manager, said in a note to staff: ‘While this is a great opportunity for the company it comes with a bittersweet feeling as this means that operations at the Tropicana Las Vegas will shut down for redevelopment.’
The hotel first welcomed guests in 1957 as a Cuban-themed property with little else in Las Vegas at the time – and was said to be ‘famous from the day it opened.’
When the sensational hotel was first unveiled, the property boasted a massive 60-foot fountain and played host to illusionists Siegfried and Roy.
Superstar Elizabeth Taylor often graced the hotel with her presence – as did music legends including Sammy Davis Jr, Louis Armstrong, and Frank Sinatra.
The Tropicana became synonymous with the vibrancy of everything Vegas had to offer – with its Folies Bergère cabaret featuring feathered showgirls.
But decades have passed since the Tropicana’s heyday and now only a few customers frequent the dimly lit casino.
Last year, the Oakland Athletics reached an agreement to build a potential $1.5billion Stadium on the Tropicana hotel site along the Las Vegas Strip.
Bally’s and Gaming & Leisure Properties will build a 30,000-seat stadium on the 35-acre site.
The project is expected to cost about $1.5bn, and the A’s are asking for nearly $400million in public support from the Nevada Legislature.
Oakland Athletics president Dave Kaval previously said: ‘For us to build a ballpark on it, the entire site needs to be clean. There will be some type of implosion.
‘Part of it will be taken down manually, but part of it will be imploded. That will be a big celebration. That will be a moment when people realize how big this is becoming.’
Kaval said of the designs for the new baseball stadium: ‘We want it to be intimate and ensure all the seats are close to the action. That’s an important part of creating a unique experience. You’re competing against television.
‘It has to feel different. People don’t want to sit in the nosebleeds.’
A description of the hotel’s opening read: ‘Unlike many other Strip layouts, the Tropicana was designed and built as a resort hotel, not as a casino and night club with incidental guest rooms.
‘Wide sweeping drives approach the hotel from the highways, closely adjoined by a sparkling fountain rising 60 feet and cascading water down into a brilliant pool 100 feet in diameter.
‘Mosaic–tile decorations flank the entrance covered by an upsweeping canopy stretching out 40 feet and measuring 130 feet in length.’
But there were also rumors of mob ties with the facility from the onset.
In 1967, Siegfried and Roy left Paris to become Las Vegas mainstays, first debuting at the Tropicana’s Folies Bergere show. The duo started 14th on the bill, and by 1978 they were the finale.
By the 1970s, the Tropicana started to lose out to competitors such as Caesars Palace. By the late 70s, it was again involved in mob activity and exposed by an FBI investigation into Vegas casinos and the mafia.
Joe Agosto, the owner of the Folies Bergere show, oversaw skimming money from the casino. Mitzi Stauffer Briggs owned the casino at the time and admitted years later that she realized she was a pawn.
The investigations and scandal led to the casino’s downfall and in the 1990s, part of the Tropicana’s site was sold to MGM to make way for the MGM Grand Casino – as modern casinos took over the Las Vegas strip.
Tropicana has seen several owners over the years and changes to the structure. In 2010, the hotel demolished two wings.
Today the owner is Bally’s Corporation, which operates casinos in Vegas and across the globe.
Tropicana is also known for being the filming location for several movies. In 1971, James Bond’s Diamonds Are Forever used the casino for Sean Connery’s Bond adventures to Las Vegas.
Viva Las Vegas and War of the Colossal Beast were also shot at the casino.
Chairman of Bally’s Corporation Soo Kim said: ‘The Trop is obviously iconic, but it is, really, in a lot of ways, economically obsolete. It literally is part of the glitz and glamour of Vegas, but it hasn’t been that for decades.’